By JIM PITT
SPECIAL TO THE VOICE
This week we pause for a moment to catch up on some news, and to offer some more accurate assessments of tales being told.
Oversight Committee—or Cheerleading Section?
In last week’s edition of the Voice it was reported that the Oversight Committee finally was heard from, publicly, or at least in a recorded Council meeting. The Chair of the Committee reported on progress, and bricks, and then made a strange comment about Mississauga. He stated that a friend of his told him that the Hershey Centre, in Mississauga, was the same size as the new double arenas being built here in Pelham. He was told that this centre cost $80 million 15 years ago. He then stated that Mississauga had a population of 600,000 and we, with 16,000, were going to build our arenas for half that price. I was curious, so I looked it up. After about a 10-minute search I found the following:
The Hershey Centre is a single pad arena with 5,000 seats. It is the home of the OHL Steelheads. It was started in 1998 and completed later that year at a cost of $22 million. ($30 million in 2016 dollars)
In 2007 the Hershey Sports Zone was built. It contains two indoor full-sized soccer fields, a full-sized basketball court, a gymnastics centre and two outdoor soccer fields.
The Iceland Sports Centre, next door, contains four indoor rinks—three NHL-sized and one International-sized, with seating for 275 in the three NHL rinks and 1,200 for the International rink.
As well, the adjoining facilities include: an outdoor basketball court, a skateboard park, a fitness centre, a triple gymnasium, baseball diamonds, two parks with trails linking them, a dog park, a driving range, a miniature golf course, an allotment for gardening for the apartments nearby, an indoor pool and a splash pad. Mississauga, with a population of 600,000, has 12 arenas, or one for every 50,000 people. We will have two arenas or one for every 8,500 people. In this aspect we are well served; some might argue we are over served, but that remains to be seen.
Whether Mississauga built all of these facilities in one area for $80 million is not known; however, I can’t imagine then-Mayor Hazel MacCallion spending more than was necessary. I wouldn’t be surprised if a large portion of the money needed to build these facilities came from provincial and federal grants. After all, that kind of money was available then, whereas there is no money for that today, as the Town found out. Mississauga is a case study in urban sprawl, but at least they put all of these facilities in one area. Here in Pelham we will have two arenas with little parking. The land around the arenas will be congested with buildings of various types. There will be no soccer fields, baseball diamonds or pools. Sounds like Mississauga got a good deal.
As for the Chairman of the Oversight Committee: checking facts is quite simple today. Just go on Google and all is made clear.
Getting information secondhand is no way to oversee a large, expensive project like the two arenas you are charged with overseeing. I can only hope you are getting your information concerning progress and bricks from a more reliable source than your friend from Mississauga.
Fun with Numbers
The Mayor reported last week that our property taxes went up a total of 2.0%, not the 2.3% reported this past April. How can this be, you ask.
Well, after contacting the Mayor’s office repeatedly since April to get clarification on the Town-only portion of the tax bill, I gave up and sent the pertinent information to an expert.
He came up with the numbers using some simple calculations. I sent these numbers to the Mayor’s office for confirmation. His message for the week seems to have confirmed my expert’s numbers.
It goes like this. Take your MPAC statement and find your property value for 2017. Multiply that number by the mill rate for each of the three levels of tax paid. That is your tax bill for 2017.
You can check your previous increases using your MPAC numbers from other years and multiplying these numbers by the mill rate for the year in question.
What does it all mean? The chart above will help explain.
The Region has had minimal tax increases for the last four years. The education portion has actually decreased, while the Town portion has increased a total of 15.12% since 2014.
While the Region and education portion of property taxes have remained very low, the Town’s portion has exploded.
It is well hidden in the overall increase.
The Region portion of our taxes has risen an average of 0.67% per year. The Education portion of our taxes has fallen an average of 2.17% per year, while the Town portion of our taxes has risen an average of 5.04% per year.
See, wasn’t that easy.