Good Turnout For Pre-Budget Meeting

Posted on Tuesday, September 12, 2017 23:30 PM

The city has officially begun taking your comments for the 2018 budget. 

Around 40 people attended Tuesday night's meeting at the Italian Cultural Centre, meeting with city administration to discuss how they'd like the city to spend its money next year. 

Holly Crescent resident Tracey Wilson adds she hopes City Hall won't try to save money by getting rid of her neighbourhood parkette. 

Wilson and her neighbours were told the parkette would be put up for sale. 

"It's not happening to other parkettes, just ours," Wilson explains. "And yet, there's families using it, the infrastructure is changing all the time."

Antonio Pucci was also at the meeting to advocate for the Holly Crescent parkette, and weighed in on issues like the future of a tax rebate for vacant properties.

City officials explained that they spent over $492,000 last year on property tax breaks for properties that are vacant for more than 90 days out of the year. 

Pucci says he's not a fan of the program, which offers a 30% rebate for commercial or industrial properties.

"I was surprised that that program existed, and I think it makes good sense for it to be removed," he says. 

Thunder Bay's streets should also be a priority, Pucci feels. "I think the state of our roads is always an issue, especially through the winter." 

Continued funding for parks and neighbourhood safety was a big focus for Linda Bruins, who explains she works with a neighbourhood not-for-profit group and has seen the benefits that come from supporting neighbourhoods. 

"[I'm here to] make sure that Council maintains social causes," Bruins says. "That's really important. I know there's a big pressure to increase police and fire budgets, [but] they get vast amounts compared to community groups."

Bruins says she's also in favour of ditching the Vacancy Rebate Program, adding the city needs to increase its tax base. 

That program was a focus for Carlos Santander-Maturana as well. He feels it encourages inefficiency, rather than promoting growth. 

"You can sit in vacant land, or build in a zone, and you are getting a 30% tax rebate," he says. "It doesn't seem to be fair to city homeowners who have to pick up the tab."

The city is taking comments on the future of the rebate program and other budget topics online until September 26th. 

Click here for more information and to leave your feedback. 

City Council is holding a pre-budget deputation meeting on September 26th. (Staff Photo/Video)