CARSTAIRS-DIDSBURY – The mayoral candidates in Didsbury and Carstairs have discussed some of their views on municipal taxation issues.
Incumbent Carstairs mayor Lance Colby said that when looking at property taxes, the new council and administration will need to “take into consideration what the infrastructure needs are and the costs of running the town.”
“As in any business, (and) the town is one, having monies in the bank and in dedicated reserves for future infrastructure needs is critical,” said Colby. “This does not mean you over tax. It is a balance between too little and too much.”
Colby said that offering incentives to businesses has been tried before.
“Business will come when they see the town has the population to support them,” he said.
Carstairs mayoral challenger Cameron Tolley said that residential taxes need to remain the same.
“In Carstairs, there is long-term debt over a million dollars that needs to be dealt with,” said Tolley. “On top of that there are high-ticket items like policing, continued affordable seniors’ housing and infrastructure such as roads and recreational improvements that need to be addressed.
“However, I believe we need to do everything possible to lower the burden of doing business in Carstairs. We need to stimulate the economy, not rely on it for paying down debt or improving roads.”
Incumbent Didsbury mayor Rick Mousseau said that the town should not be raising taxes at this time.
“The present council has been able to maintain a zero increase on taxation,” said Mousseau. “Administration has been able to keep a good balance whether taxes should be raised or not. So as I am running for mayor again, I hope to maintain what has been working, which is working with administration and council in keeping Didsbury a place to move to.”
“If we can bring in enough business to reduce the ratio between residential taxes, we are aiming for 70 per cent business tax to 30 per cent residential.”
Mayoral candidate Norm Quantz said he would like to see taxes lowered or at least kept at current levels.
“While going door to door asking homeowners how much they want their taxes reduced, they mostly say taxes are high but inevitable,” said Quantz. “They are mostly protesting concerns over how their tax money is spent. Taxes are high, period.
“I believe that more responsible spending by council on priority issues will garner greater satisfaction from taxpayers.”
Mayoral candidate Rhonda Hunter said that she has heard from speaking with Didsbury residents that they think that property taxes are too high.
“Compared to surrounding communities there is indeed a disparity that Didsbury faces with property taxes that needs to be corrected,” said Hunter. “If elected as mayor, my approach will be to focus on generating revenue for the town, in which case our needed projects can be funded without affecting our taxes and, in which case, more projects can be funded.”
Mayoral candidate Joyce McCoy said she would like to see council look for opportunities to reduce taxes, while increasing service levels.
“Debt should be reasonable, prudent and aligned with council’s strategic plan,” said McCoy. “I will also ask council to review business taxes and incentives in the region to ensure we are open to arrangements with developers and businesses in respect to the same benefits and accommodations available in other communities so they are encouraged to choose Didsbury.”
McCoy said that the annual budget process will start with input from the public at an open forum and as the process evolves, there will be ongoing community participation.
Mayoral candidate Keegon McPherson could not be reached for comment.