It may well be that Niagara-on-the-Lake needs to spend more on its infrastructure.
Most residents would likely agree that having raw sewage leak from our sewers into our creeks and Lake Ontario is unacceptable.
And most would also agree, I believe, that town should undertake the necessary repairs and upgrades to our sewage system to resolve the issue.
However, I doubt many would agree with Lord Mayor Gary Zalepa that property tax increases are required for that to happen, (“Leaky sewers a symptom of low infrastructure spending, mayor says,” The Lake Report, Nov. 23).
Instead of property tax increases, the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake should consider other options, including using some of the new tax dollars it will receive from the accommodation tax to address infrastructure issues such as leaky sewer lines.
There is no question that the high numbers of tourists who visit our town each year put a strain on our infrastructure.
Nor is there any question that clean, naturally smelling waterways and lakes, beaches with water that is safe to swim in, pothole-free roads and smooth sidewalks would augment the tourism experience offered by our wonderful town.
It may also be that town needs to take a hard look at its current spending. There are undoubtedly areas in the budget where spending could be reduced.
I’ve noted previously that it does not make sense for town to make discretionary grants to groups and organizations when it is also planning to implement a significant tax increase.
And I question whether all the new hires town has made recently were really the right thing to do, especially with the ongoing costs associated with those hires.
Given the current economic climate, inflation and housing affordability issues that are making it challenging for many to make ends meet, a property tax increase is not the answer to finding the money to fix our aging infrastructure.
Cutting discretionary spending, a staffing freeze and being flexible (while staying within the law) about how the revenue generated by the accommodation tax is used would be a better option.
It may take some innovative thinking about how the various revenue streams the town has at its disposal are allocated, but I believe it can be done. It’s time to keep property tax increases in line with inflation, period.