LETTER: What is the plan?

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The Brockville Taxpayers Association (BTA) has received numerous inquiries asking “what is Council’s plan for dealing with city finances relevant to the impacts of the COVID-19 Virus and other needed issues?”

There is only one group who can answer those questions, the city council.

How is the City of Brockville going to survive this? The BTA continues to support council in their efforts to reduce taxes. We understand this was a pre-virus effort, but nonetheless the right approach. We encourage council to be resolved in lowering taxes and reducing costs. The people of Brockville should be very pleased with Mayor Baker’s efforts to steer council in the direction of municipal responsibility and use financial support for city initiatives.

We continue to advocate for reduced debt and increased reserves. This is a key financial indicator used to measure council’s financial management decisions. The debt to reserve ratio is ideal at 1:1. This is the best cornerstone on which to build Brockville’s future. Before the virus, the city had a lot of people out of work and a number of closed businesses. Now we have the COVID impact on top of that and this could be a long-lasting effect. The BTA understands the idea of a second debenture to pay the hospital ask, and keeping the money saved in reserve, not to be used to fund other projects. In normal times it is not a good practice to borrow money for operational costs.


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So … what is the plan? To answer everyone’s question we would like to recommend a one page mailout to the taxpayers of Brockville. This page would show what options are available to balance the budget for 2020 … what has been implemented and what are considered as the next steps. We understand some people have been laid off and capital spending is reduced. What about reduced salaries, frozen salaries, reduced increases, reduced services, reduce any and all contributions from the city? We are going to need some short-term pain to have financial viability over the long term.

On the revenue side, if you can pay your taxes, please do so. Maybe you can be given an opportunity to pay early. What is the plan to go forward when the 2021 budget decisions are on the table? It may seem like a ways off but it is just around the corner. We will need a plan for debt management. We will need a reserve fund model, a spending plan and possibly reorganization.

As we all know, our council ran on being transparent and having good communications. We think they have done an excellent job and we support their efforts in any way we can through this COVID-19 crisis.

Finally, we sincerely thank the health-care workers who are on the front lines in our city. We cannot say thank you enough for being there. There are many more essential workers who have showed up for work each and every day, committed to providing our citizens with access to services that are needed. Two months ago we didn’t think of a grocery clerk as being an essential worker. In today’s environment, they truly are and we deeply appreciate every one of them and all people who are on the front lines of the COVID-19 virus crisis.

Please wear a mask if you can, keep your social distance, always wash your hands and stay safe.

Dave Cochrane

President, Brockville Taxpayers Association