Fire hall needed, tax method unfair

Ladysmith Chronicle Letter to the Editor November 1

Editor,

North Oyster badly needs a new firehall. The existing hall is unsafe, and ready to collapse at the first tremor.

Unfortunately, Area H Director Mary Marcotte still hasn’t learned to not surprise the voters.

First, while the referendum will only borrow $3,030,000, the taxpayers are being asked to pay back $240,000 a year for 20 years, or $4,800,000. That’s quite a difference.

Second, Marcotte is asking the owner of each parcel of land, whatever its size, whatever its assessment, to pay exactly the same amount. Each landowner will pay $248.96 more each year for 20 years, or $4,979.20 in total no matter what our property is worth.

Turning down this referendum is not something I’m going to do lightly. The firefighters need the hall. And I don’t want to see a six -month delay (according to Marcotte) while we organize another referendum.

But taxes need to be based on ability to pay. And large industrial operations like Fortis Gas (formerly Terasen Gas) shouldn’t be able to escape an assessment based tax while we ask seniors on fixed income to pay a parcel tax.

I’m going to vote NO.  But I’ll vote YES when the next referendum is based on the standard assessment process.

Robert Smits

Ladysmith