Municipality of Central Elgin, Ontario, June 08, 2009 – At the Central Elgin Council Meeting tonight, Bruce Lemon, President of Central Elgin Ratepayers Association (CERA) blasted the Municipal Council for out of control spending, lack of transparency and one of the highest lower-tier property tax rates in Ontario.
“Reasons for incorporating the villages of Belmont, Port Stanley & the Township of Yarmouth into the Municipality of Central Elgin were to maximize operating efficiencies as well as minimize duplication with the goal of reducing costs. The results to date have been a total failure with property taxes having at least doubled, water rates have at least tripled and staffing levels have increased dramatically while the municipality has only realized a very small population growth rate.” , said Bruce Lemon.
“The administration and Council in formulating this most recent budget have totally ignored the current fiscal climate where many people are unemployed and many seniors are living on small fixed incomes. It’s impossible to get to the bottom of these and other issues since questions were not allowed at a so-called “open” budget meeting in early April of this year.”
“Why is Central Elgin’s lower-tier property tax rate 75% higher than the Municipality of Lambton Shores?” , asked Mr. Lemon. “ That’s where Grand Bend is located! Grand Bend, as noted by our Council, is the rival to Port Stanley for summer beach time. Given these higher costs, it would be hard to choose Port Stanley over Grand Bend as a place to live or start a business.”
Mr. Lemon further issued a caution regarding the negotiations to acquire Port Stanley Harbour, “ We are not opposed to the takeover of the Harbour if a realistic revenue neutral plan is established.”, he said.
“The Harbour must be upgraded to meet all environmental standards prior to takeover, or a firm commitment made by the federal/provincial governments to have this done. This condition also applies to having the Harbour dredged and the piers and breakwaters updated to current standards. By adding an inflationary figure to past estimates, the total cost will be at least $30 Million and could even be as high as $50 Million. This is the most crucial decision that Central Elgin will ever undertake.
Accordingly, CERA’s position is that a proper long term Harbour business plan and a plebiscite for approval by the citizens of Central Elgin is required before acquiring the Harbour.”
In closing Mr. Lemon added , “We expect Council to represent the ratepayers’ interests, not their own and not those of the administration. We expect to see much more transparency without backroom closed door decisions being made. Communication should be a two way street. To date it’s been a one way street. We intend to produce a regular report card on Council and it’s individual member’s effectiveness, openness and position on all issues that effect our community. This report card will give ratepayers a much better insight when electing their Council in the future.”
Central Elgin Ratepayers Association
Established in 2009, a not-for-profit corporation
Volunteer Driven. No Paid Staff.
Memberships accepted from all property ratepayers in the Municipality of Central Elgin.
Representation on the Board of Directors from Belmont, Yarmouth and Port Stanley.
Central Elgin Ratepayers Association fosters and advances the interests of the ratepayers of the Municipality of Central Elgin specifically focusing on:
*Evaluating matters relevant to property taxes and municipal services in the Municipality of Central Elgin and the County of Elgin;
*The retention of the desirable features of Central Elgin; and
*Fostering financially sound projects which are to the benefit of the Municipality as a whole .
Founding Board of Directors:
Bruce Lemon – President
Helen Garton – Vice President
Terry E. Campbell – Secretary- Treasurer
Victor Kinsella – Director
Blair Clarke – Director
Victor Clive – Director