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LETTER: Get facts straight about Oro-Medonte development charges

'People have a tendency to reinforce their own beliefs without critical thought,' says Oro-Medonte deputy mayor
2022-05-17 typing pexels-donatello-trisolino-1375261
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BarrieToday welcomes letters to the editor at raymond@barrietoday.com. Please include your full name, daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication). The following letter is in response to a story titled 'Disinformation, fake profiles causing real issues in Oro-Medonte,' published Sept. 17, and 'LETTER: Council decision could be costly for Oro taxpayers,' published Sept. 23.
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Council critics should get their facts straight before being so quick to spread false information.

Firstly, I would like to thank Mr. Greg McGrath-Goudie for his article titled, “Disinformation, fake profiles causing real issue in Oro-Medonte.” You hit the nail on the head with your factual article.

Specifically, Oro-Medonte council recently voted to reduce development charges (DCs) in some cases. However, in Doug Varty’s letter, information was omitted that will result in readers possibly having beliefs of the situation completely contrary to the facts.

The facts that can be confirmed from watching the debate first-hand are:

Council did not reduce all development charges. All new industrial/commercial developers will pay up to a cap of $300,000. Only after the $300,000 cap will any balance over that amount be reduced. A reduction in fees beyond the $300,000 would enable larger companies to build larger facilities while remaining within their construction budget. This would result in more annual property taxes for the township and, hopefully, more jobs. Residential taxpayers would in fact benefit from the additional annual property taxes and employment opportunities.

Clearly, Mr. Varty either misunderstood or, similar to the two councillors that voted against the reduction in DCs over $300,000, was not able to grasp the long-term benefits for residential taxpayers.

Further, this reinforces the point that Greg McGrath-Goudie’s article made that people have a tendency to reinforce their own beliefs without critical thought. For example, it is not logical that two-thirds of Oro-Medonte councillors would vote to subsidize industrial/commercial development charges considering that members of council would be impacted as they are also taxpayers in Oro-Medonte.

Companies use a number of factors to determine where they are going to locate their business. It should be noted that the City of Orillia does not charge any DCs for industrial and commercial uses.

In addition, Orillia is not regulated by conservation authorities as we are in Oro-Medonte. Conservation authorities also charge developers substantial fees and the County of Simcoe also charges DCs. The county currently matches a reduction in fees that a Simcoe County municipality offers. The reduction in fees could be a determining factor for a large company to choose to locate in Oro-Medonte.

If a company chooses not to build in Oro-Medonte or chooses to build a significantly smaller facility because of the required fees, then there is either no or a reduced revenue for the township both short and long term. The simple math is that 100 per cent of nothing is nothing. Five of the seven councillors understood this simple math in supporting this reduction on any fees in excess of $300,000.

To check the facts you can view the meeting of Sept. 14 on the township YouTube channel.

It is very unfortunate that a small group of township residents continually complain and criticize the actions and decisions of council. If they know the solution to the contentious issues, which they usually claim to do, they should run for council.

Ralph Hough
Oro-Medonte, deputy mayor

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