Letter to the editor – recommendations for council

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Dear Editor,

Recommendations for North Grenville council in these difficult times:

  1. 20% reduction in prop- erty tax bills immediately.
  2. Hiring freeze and pay freeze. Immediate temporary layoff of non-essential staff. This would exclude public works and emergency services. Shut down the parks and rec. department except for parks and trails and put under the direction of public works. The municipality should not be encouraging any public gatherings. Get as many employees as possible out of the municipal center to minimize COVID-19 risks.
  3. Capital spending freeze for anything not related to public works and emergency services. There’s no point in enhancing parks and rec. facilities and heritage buildings when we may not be able to use them anytime soon. We may need the capital reserves just to continue providing public works and emergency services.
  4. Freeze on any new debt. Work on paying off municipal debt.
  5. No more spending on master plans. The situation is changing too rapidly and may have long lasting effects. If the province wants to mandate various master plans, they can pay for them.
  6. Re-focus on the financial health of taxpayers rather than expansion of non-core services.
  7. Use the down time of this crisis to get the province to revise their ideas about sprawl. Zoning and planning rules need to be changed to allow cheap, easy, and fast approval of rural land severances and rural subdivisions. Reduce rural development fees by 80%. Reduce building permit fees by 50%. You can sustain growth this way through tough economic times. Our society is more secure and resilient when people have a chance to be self-sufficient on their own piece of rural property. They’ll have their own well and septic, and enough land to have home businesses and large gardens if desired. The tax base will increase in rural areas which will help fund road improvements. The municipality will not have to build bigger sewer and water facilities, sidewalks, streetlights and other expensive urban infrastructure.
  8. More aggressive bidding and purchasing practices to reduce costs.
  9. Forget provincial rules on 20 year equipment replacement. If for example, a road grader or firetruck is still reliable and useful, replace it only when it is no longer serviceable.

Stephen Hammond

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