The right number

It is budget time across the county and if you guessed before waiting for talks to conclude that property taxes are going up, you are correct.

Like most readers, municipalities face increases in cost. Just because it is a government body, does not mean fuel and hydro are cheaper. Similarly, wages, benefit costs, and the price of performing capital projects will increase too. It is a natural course of events and apart from unusual times in the late 1990s where zero increases were the norm, taxes will continue to rise.

Allegations of poor management and fiscal irresponsibility will rear their head shortly – again. That, too, is a natural tendency. Spending priorities in a household are not a lot different for many people. Some spend more than they have while others will have green fingers from holding pennies tight in their sweaty grip. Then, there are the rest of us, firmly entrenched in the middle.

Many people, of all ages enjoy parks and recreation programs, the cultural benefits of libraries, the unquestionable need for the best protection and security in times of trouble, and our road system, with all it entails. Winter snow clearing and sanding, bridges and culverts, plus water and sewer systems have to be maintained – and it all costs money.

Thrown into the mix of all those costs is their apportionment per home. Big house equals big tax bill, smaller home means lower taxes. Politicians are generally presented with an average assessment and average tax bill, which covers the education, county, and township portion of the levy. Most of our articles in the next few weeks will point at the average in each township.

 Recognizing those points, we wonder what is the right average number? What is a fair weekly contribution to ensure the betterment and sustainability of each community in the county? When viewed with that lens, rather than the overly simplistic notion of acceptable percentages, we might find the present rates are not far off reasonable.