How do we get quality service with lower taxes?
Great question, and not an easy one to answer. Reducing costs while increasing quality is the quintessential question for everyone involved in the delivery of services, from municipalities, businesses, health care providers and not for profits agencies. Certainly, with costs related to labor, materials, and utilities rising this is a distinct challenge. To put this into perspective the City of Barrie has a had tax increases every year since 2001. Our 2018 increase was 2.75%. This doesn’t mean that it should not remain a goal, but rather puts the task into perspective.
For Barrie homeowners the tax they pay is directed as follows:
· 55% of their property tax bill funds city services,
· 31% funds the city’s service partners - Barrie police, the County of Simcoe, Barrie Public Library
· 14% is for education
The breakdown shows where the costs and saving opportunities are. Some common methods to address costs are: finding efficiencies, diversifying revenue sources, adopting innovation, use of technology, privatization or bringing services in house, adopting best practices from other areas, reducing services, retracting services, and delaying expenditures for the future.
The promise to keep taxes low is a promise everyone makes. Of course, Council should do their best to keep taxes low - nobody wants to pay more than they have to. To this end in 2013 Mayor Lehman moved a motion to limit property tax increase to 2%. I think promising to reduce taxes is most often an easy election promise that is easily brushed away by politicians once they gain office. I think it is much more reasonable and sensible to ensure fair taxation, and transparent discussion is held on decisions related to property tax.
Regarding improving quality of services, this should always be the goal of anyone providing service. Addressing this can be done by ensuring the principles of Continuous Quality Improvement (Plan, Do, Study, Act) are implemented. This method is supported by ensuring the feedback of primary stakeholders is utilized – service users and service providers.
I would like to hear your comments.