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It takes a certain amount of money to run the town

Letter to the Editor,

I am responding to Rob Cooper’s latest “Letter to the Editor”.
Property taxes are an extremely important issue in my opinion and worthy of a serious and civil debate. The comments contained in this letter are solely mine and not Rainy River Town Council’s:
What Mr. Cooper actually paid or did not pay in taxes for any year he has owned his motel, I do not know. Contrary to his assumptions, I did not do any calculations on the increase or decrease of his particular taxes since I saw neither his 2007 bill nor the 2008 bill, so his suggestion to go back to grade school will be respectfully ignored.
However, to calculate his increase from 2007 to 2008, since no one knows the actual dollars he paid except himself, the rates he provided are the only thing I can use to check the accuracy of his calculations. The rates he mentioned in his latest letter are in fact accurate rates for commercial properties. He provided us with: A 2007 commercial rate of 4.167229 vs. a commercial rate of 4.315427 for 2008, consequently, 4.315427 - 4.167229 = 0.148198. Divide 0.148198 by 4.167229 (base rate) and that equals an increase of 3.556%. A 3.556% increase is quite different from his claim of 8.7228%. Perhaps there is another reason for the increase of $736.24 (which may or may not be correct) other than increased commercial tax rate that occurred in 2008.
My comments in response to questions from the editor of the RR Record were based on 2007 and pre-2007 rates. The rates listed in the article for the Municipalities were 2007 rates. As I explained to the editor, these were the last available rates for comparison purposes (FIR’s-Ont Gov’t site where all Municipalities returns are filed). The 2008 rates are not yet published and will not be until the summer or fall.
However, the basic point of my response was that Rainy River has comparable rates to other municipalities in this region and, despite the quote attributed to me, what I intended to convey to the readers was that Rainy River had been reducing rates for the past several years for our commercial taxpayers. I am sure there are not too many Municipalities in Ontario that could make this claim. In fact, the Town of Rainy River has decreased or frozen commercial rates for the years 2003-2007. Even the 2008 rate of 4.315 is below 2003 levels. The following are the actual commercial rates for Rainy River as per the public filings that are currently available online:
2003 - 4.3820
2004 - 4.3699
2005 - 4.3699
2006 - 4.2525
2007 - 4.1672
All businesses in Rainy River were the beneficiaries of five consecutive years of tax rate reductions or freezes, however, some taxes may go up for specific businesses even if the town reduces its rates. This would happen if property assessments should change, and perhaps if commercial property tax capping, which occurred in 2005, works its way through. Assessments and capping provisions are the responsibility of the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation, not the town.
Are these rates as low as everyone would want? Most likely not. Are some businesses in Rainy River hurting financially? Most likely. This council and past councils having been attempting to do all that is possible to reduce these rates without adversely affecting services, and placing an even greater burden on our residential taxpayers.
I fully understand the importance of having the lowest possible commercial and residential taxes. Here is the basic reality--it takes a certain amount of money to operate a town and provide the services we all expect. Mr. Cooper, in his critical way, spoke of the “pretty outstanding services in this Town” in his second letter. While we may not have “extraordinary services”, I am confident we are providing our citizens with the best services possible with the tax money that is available.
I encourage anyone with practical suggestions pertaining to what services they feel should be cut, or how our town’s operations could be more efficient, to present their ideas to council for our consideration at any time. The budget for 2009 has not been set; there is still sufficient time for individuals to have input into this years’ budget.
They do not have to appear in person before council, there are many different ways such as mail, e-mail, phone, and even letters to the editor. As a member of council I would appreciate any constructive advice that may eventually lead to the reduction of taxes for all property owners.

–Brent Anderson,
Rainy River