Raising funds for the Hall through property taxes

Tuesday, August 22 2017

Both Howard Houle and Susan Yates wrote letters to the editor last week, speaking out against raising funds in the community through our property taxes, but there is another side to the story.

Raising Funds:

Susan suggests that we should raise funds by other means which places the burden of fundraising and grant writing on the few volunteers who are willing and able to do it. It is difficult to sustain that effort every year. While I certainly would not advocate trying to raise all funding through taxes, it makes sense to me to collect modest sums from all of us as a way to contribute to the community institutions that we value.

Use of Funds:

Susan also expresses reluctance to contribute without specific plans for the use of funds, yet I am sure most of us donate to non-profits whose objectives we support without requiring their commitment to specific projects for our money. 

Non-profits like Oxfam, Medical Research etc. We trust them to use the funds in ways reflecting their and our values. Specific targets can invite supporters and detractors and divert attention away from the general support enabled by tax funds. Can we not agree to fund island institutions that we can influence and that we know will use the funds to the benefit of the community? We can monitor the details on an annual basis as they unfold. 

The Cost:

Howard is concerned about rising taxation, but does not also acknowledge how investment in the community makes us all better off. 

The proposed annual $26.40 to be added to our property taxes for GICHA and GAC pales in comparison to recent gains in property values. 

How much has the average property increased: $33,000? $66,000? How much less desirable would our properties be if we did not support our amenities and institutions, either through one-time funding or ongoing taxation? No Agi Hall, no museum, no Commons, no Rollo Centre, no GERTIE, no GAC, no community hall, no parks, et cetera.

Older Property Owners: 

Howard also points out that rising property taxes can be a burden for the old. But property owners over 55 with 25 per cent equity can qualify to defer property taxes with a 0.7 per cent government loan which is only recovered when the property is sold. 

Property taxes raised and spent in our community are not the same as tax dollars going to Ottawa. These dollars yield immediate benefit to us by funding improvements and they also make economic sense. You will always be able to influence what happens here. 

Finally, who’s for looking into how we can to help buy the Coats property for Gabriolans?

~ Richard Strachan