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Mayoral candidates offer ideas on dealing with property taxes

Property taxes pay for a wide variety of services, such as police and fire protection, paramedics, street and sidewalk snow plowing, roads, and garbage pickup

What do Barrie’s seven candidates for mayor think about the city’s most important issues as election day approaches on Oct. 24?

Barry Ward, Andrew Gordon, Weldon Hachey, Alex Nuttall, Gerry Marshall, and Mike McCann responded to six questions from BarrieToday about a variety of issues and concerns facing the city. Rob Haverson did not respond.

One of those questions was: What is your position on property tax increases during the next four years, and why? Is controlling tax increases the most important thing the next council can do to help Barrie residents with affordability?

Property taxes pay for services to Barrie properties, and the people who inhabit them, such as police and fire protection, paramedics, street and sidewalk snow plowing, road reconstruction, and garbage, recyclables and yard waste pickup.

Barry Ward

During these inflationary times, with household budgets being stretched, I’ll work with councillors to keep any tax increase – if one is necessary – to a minimum over the next four years. Because property taxes are not directly tied to household or business incomes, it is important that we not burden residents or businesses with increases they can’t afford. We will continue to look for efficiencies and new sources of revenue at city hall. At the same time, I would resist cutting the services our residents value, such as road repairs, recreation and snowplowing, while also avoiding hikes in such things as recreation fees to make up for lower taxes.

Andrew Gordon

I hope to freeze, if not reduce, the property tax over the next four years. I would also like to cap property taxes for seniors who are on pensions and can't afford their ever-increasing property taxes. It's not fair to force them out of their homes because inflation is outpacing their pensions. 

Weldon Hachey

People can’t afford any more property taxes. We have to find another method of income generation.

Alex Nuttall

Inflation is hitting Barrie residents hard, now is not the time for increasing taxes and digging into your pockets. I plan to hold the line on property taxes, so that Barrie residents can breathe a little bit easier. Freezing expenses such as recreational user fees, especially for seniors, will help alleviate the pressure residents are feeling, and will help combat the higher cost of living. I will also maintain the capital surcharge to complete infrastructure work around the city.

Gerry Marshall

My eight-year tenure as mayor of Penetanguishene saw taxes kept low at an average of half a per cent per year, while at the same time improving services and service levels including a greater focus on road maintenance and repair. Beyond improved operational services, transit was introduced, Main Street reconstructed and new parks built. Tourist attraction efforts increased. Over my four-year term as warden of Simcoe County, and despite a half-billion dollar a year budget, taxes were kept under control with an average tax increase rate of 1.5 per cent, per year. Service and strategy improvements included creation of an economic development department that dramatically improved business attraction efforts. New services were launched such as the LINX Transit system launched. Several hundred new housing units were constructed. I commit to the same level of diligence and will carefully mind your dollars over the next four years.

Mike McCann

Property tax increases should be minimal over the next five years to ensure we do not stifle the opportunities our population growth presents. We also need to ensure we have adequate reserves to address unforeseen expenditures that may arise. I want to find efficiencies at city hall, directing tax dollars to areas where we need it the most, while providing the right economic conditions to attract investment to our community.