March 7 Letters

Letters to the editor

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Letter to the Editor

RE: Reeve Gray reflects on 2018
Dear Editor,
The Reeve seems to proudly boast that 2018 was a successful year because the average tax increase for farmland in the R.M. was 24.5%. Well, I have a surprise for you – you should be ashamed. It seems this council is either senile, stupid, or uncaring-which is defined as lacking compassion or concern for others.

How long do you think this rate of increase can be sustained? From 2014- 2018 my taxes on 3/4 section increased from $4671.30 to $5866.68, an increase of $1195.38 or 25.590%. From 2011-2018 from $3822.70 to $5866.68, an increase of $2043.98 or 53.47%.

Is the council of the R.M. not aware of the cost of living increase per year?

I believe it is less than 3%. This does not include school levies. Council should be sent back to school to understand how the mil rate works. It can fluctuate every year and the reason for that is that when there is an increase in assessed values upwards the mil rate can change to accommodate that increase, thus lightening the irresponsible acts of this present council. After attending the school budget meeting in Elm Creek this week, I was thankful that the provincial government restricted increases in school taxes to 2%. The increase on my school taxes from 2014-2018 was $6754.85 – $3662.90, an increase of $3091.95 or 84.4%.

From 2011-2018 my school taxes increased by 211%. Looking at Statistics Canada data the number of farms was 15855 in 2016. Average age of farmers – 53.8 years. Oldest age category (55+ years) increased by 52.1% from 2011 to 2016. Canola and soybeans accounted for 48.4% of crop area. In 2017 councillors remuneration was $158,293.

As of Nov. 30/18 total payments to the council was $165,160.24, an increase of $6867.24 and this does not include Dec./18 payments to them – a percentage increase 4.39%.

What is the cost of living?

I believe it is under or near 3%. Only one councillor appears to consider who is paying his salary. Thank you Mr. Clay- ton Morgan.

Total actual expenditures for the year 2015-2017 are as follows: 2015- $4,470,776,

2016- $4,864,905, and 2017 – $5,084,670(the latest year for which this data is available), which is an increasing percentage of 4.54% from 2016-2017. Meeting of the AMM in Brandon costs for all who attended in 2018- $2477.00

In 2016 employees included a CAO, a municipal foreman, an assistant foreman, level equipment operator, weed supervisor, and a second equipment operator.

The largest salary in that year was $80,640 which was for the CAO. Total salaries- $468,612. In 2017 employees of the R.M. were: a municipal foreman, an assistant foreman and five (5) equipment operators , and the CAO. There was a total increase of $32,558 or 6.95%.

Neither of these years included the remaining office staff, as this information is unavailable to me or is not included in their financial statements.

On more than one occasion I have requested information. It’s like pulling hen’s teeth to get any response much less a correct response from the R.M. council or the office.

I requested information such as how many councillors and/or reeve own 1/4 section or more of farmland, a proportion of costs associated with joint agreements with the town.

RM of Dufferin rural population in 2016- 2435 of whom 290 or 11.9% are over the age of 65 years, Occupied private dwellings- 740. Town of Carman population- 2980. Occupied private dwellings – 1330.

Does this rural council believe there is a bottomless pit of funds? It appears so. How long do they think these rate increases

can be sustained? It appears they think forever.

Well, council, I think you better sharpen your pencils and give us all a credit for getting screwed. And according to the grapevine, it looks like there is another big increase coming, for such things as water utility, change in Education Property Tax, another reassessment, and change in councillors tax exemptions.

At a minimum, all ratepayers should be asking his/her councillor/reeve for an itemized statement of account for the AMM meeting in Brandon, and also what he learned at the meeting in order for us to determine if his actual learning was worth the cost. When did the practice of paying for almost all of the council to go to that meeting begin? It wasn’t very long ago that only 2 or 3 people went.

My mother always told me, ”You look after the pennies and the dimes will look after

themselves.” Take a lesson, R.M. of Dufferin.

Sincerely, Pat Roth