Wolfville Town Council doesn't tax, it charges like a raging bull!

I used to live in Lisarow, NSW, Australia. My dear wife, a real blue-noser, said let's pack up our bags and go to Wolfville. OK, if push came to shove I'd probably follow her to Mars --- I wish I had.

As they say Downunder, gawdstrewth!
OK, Wolfville is a nice place --- but you should have seen what I left behind!
Now, for half the property, we pay MORE than 4 times the Property Tax!!!!

It seems the good people of Wolfville are just too nice to say no, and over the years the tax burden has become gargantuan. Anyway a bunch of concerned citizens showed up at a Council Meeting at the Fire-Hall on 23 April. The civil-servants of Wolfville began with MUCH long-winded, self-serving, and deceptive guff. EVENTUALLY, a handful of citizens (including business proprietors) meekly asked that the taxes not be raised by quite so much.

I would have liked to have had a few words myself... but proceedings drew to a close before that was possible. Also, I was a bit handicapped by not getting access to the complete budget until I got to the meeting. Why the heck didn't Council post the complete budget on the web --- instead of that "summary budget"????

So here are a few things I wanted to say.

I picked up the Budget and am having a bit of trouble reading it. No, it's not my eyesight that's failing --- it's just that I'm not accustomed to such rich fodder. I can barely bring myself to look at it without suffering a reflux reflex. Here are a few off-the-cuff suggestions for saving us all from budget bloat:
  1. There is a time to spend, a time to borrow, and a time to save. Wolfville is coming off a boom period. During booms you pay down your debt. Well it seems that didn't happen. Now we are heading for hard economic times. But the good news is that interest rates are falling. Make only modest payments when interest rates are low and falling. However, build up your real reserves by cutting taxes and slashing spending. When (if) there is a recovery, and everyone is flush with cash, raise taxes a bit to pay down the debt BEFORE interest rates take off.
  2. It seems there is a sum of $325,000 being spent on renovating a library building. Well, we have a building already. The people of Wolfville could buy themselves a lot of books in lieu of blowing another $325,000. What's more, they might even buy books that they were interested in reading! If the library really is falling down, then I suggest seeking an initiative to collaborate with Acadia University to more efficiently (and effectively) provide for those of us who read.
  3. Wow, I almost fell over backwards when I saw $37,000 to install a Town Hall generator. I hope that this also includes the cost of the generator? Regardless, we can get by without it. OK, if Council needs a bit of electricity so the furnace is kept functional during NSP-days, pick up a $1500 unit at Canadian Tyre (or even across the street from the local supplier). Town Council is not such a mission-critical operation.
  4. Rec Center Renovations at $306,000! At that price, you must be building a Taj Mahal.
  5. $200,000 to put a few plants and paths in Clock Park? Surely you jest. This is a tiny little park --- be reasonable.
  6. $60,000 for Wickwire Well. Is it a wishing well? I suspect you just mean a pond to dissipate stormwater runoff. When I built my place in Australia, I hired a guy with a 15 ton excavator who could have dug you a perfectly fine hole for a couple of grand (less here because the dirt is so soft). Anyway, why is it needed? I'll tell you why, because the Assisted Living joint has just been built on an area that must once have accommodated the runoff. Look, they could have dug your hole as an incidental cost. (I'm sure they would not have blown $60,000 on it.)
  7. I don't know where it appears in the budget, but last spring I was amazed to see these wimpy asphalt curbs that had been knocked off by the snow plows. Blow me down, I was even more surprise to see them all being fixed up through spring and summer --- just in time to be knocked over the next winter! Surely, it must be obvious to anyone that the design is flawed... the solution is obvious, inexpensive, and would save a bit of wear and tear on the snow plows.
  8. Lights for tennis courts. Heck, the days are plenty long in summer. You don't need to play at night. Get some sleep, it's good for you --- and the environment.
  9. $210,000 to provide for a Farmers Market. Well, this is a business venture. Wolfville Town Council runs itself as a "cost-plus" operation --- the last thing we need is for them to start up in business. A Farmers Market may or may not be a good business venture, but that's up to business people to decide, capitalize, and maybe profit from.
  10. Now that we have reduced the amount of spending, we don't need as many Council employees. Presently there is one position not filled. Scrap it.
  11. As positions fall vacant, don't fill them. If there is more work than staff can handle, then prioritize the work and drop the stuff that really doesn't matter AND REDUCE THE TAX. This process needs to continue until taxes are halved.
  12. It seems to me that Council is grossly over-staffed. Staff have too much time to spend cooking up expensive new entitlements for themselves. Wolville is a tiny place so it does not have any economy of scale. I suggest that some types of positions could be shared between several towns.