Plenty of issues were discussed on the third installment of the North Bay Votes 2018 councillor mini-debates on Country 600 CKAT.

They included waterfront attractions, fiscal accountability, economic development, a ward system and public presentations.

In terms of zero percent tax increase, Neal McNamara is advocate.

“We have opportunities to get additional revenues from other sources, not through debt and not on the back of taxpayers, I have a plan,” he says.

George Maroosis says when keeping increases at a realistic level, like the rate of inflation, services are kept up.

“If you go to zero, it’s going to eventually catch up with you and then you’re going to have to have this huge jump, then you’re going to get in trouble, this is not a popularity contest,” he says.

Johanne Brousseau says it’s important to remember some costs, like gas prices or upcoming wage increases are out of Council’s control.

“An increase close to or below the inflation rate is good, but zero percent, for me, unless you don’t increase a lot of the revenues, is going backwards,” she says.

Ed Valenti says a zero percent goal is a good target, but agrees there are real costs like payroll to keep in mind.

“I think what people are looking for is to see that our money is spent properly and if it’s done in a correct manner, I think people are receptive to a cost of living increase,” he says.

Scott Robertson says if a reasonable case can be made then he’d support a zero percent increase, but not if it negatively impacts services, infrastructure or growth.

“If you make a promise for zero percent tax increases over the four years, my biggest fear is you’re just kicking it down the road and will have to pay higher increases,” he says.

In terms of a ward system,  Robertson can see the benefits, but also says right now they’re running for office on the ‘at large’ system.

“It is the kind of thing that I think would be good for a question on the ballot in the next election, because it’s such an important change to our institution that it’s really important to get feedback from people,” he says.

Maroosis agrees it would be a good referendum question. He also says a ward system was ruled out in 1968, to unify the city.

“That was 50 years ago, so is it time to revisit it? Possibly and I’ve always said I’m up for a good debate”, he says.

Valenti would entertain the discussion, but isn’t particularly in favour, saying there would be disadvantages.

“Having a councillor in one ward is not accountable to the voters in other wards, I believe a ward system could relegate West Ferris to a minority position,” he says.

Brousseau is open to a task force discussing the issue, but the cons outweight the pros for her right now.

“There’s a cost involved in changing, I want to know how much. If you tell me it’s a half million, I may go to leave it status quo, so for me that’s important also,” she says.

McNamara is proposing a hybrid-type system.

“Councillor at large system, which we currently have now, but designating people to be representatives of certain areas, almost like secondary duties,” he says.

The next councillor mini-debate airs just after the 8 am news on Thursday, October 4th with five more candidates taking part.


CLICK HERE to listen to the full North Bay Votes 2018 councillor candidate debate#3 (Tues Oct 2nd)


Filed under: North Bay Votes 2018