A couple of weeks ago friends of ours in Seguin Township told us that a Seguin candidate had dropped by their home and in the course of the discussion said, or implied, that Parry Sound taxes were as high as they were was because the Town of Parry Sound was bankrupt. These are knowledgeable folks who were surprised by the statement and mentioned it to us for confirmation, or not.
I ended up speaking with the Seguin candidate about what our friends had heard. The candidate said that was not what they had said. I simply advised the candidate that this was the message that was received, probably because of what was, or how it was, communicated. The candidate did say, perhaps in their own defense, that a recent KPMG report stated Parry Sound carried a higher debt load than the neighbouring municipalities. To that I would reply – guilty as reported, but that is far from being bankrupt, or drowning in debt. It’s like criticizing a neighbour for having a larger mortgage for their more expensive property than you have for yours. If the debt is less than the value, and the mortgage payments are manageable, there is no problem. You may not prefer that level of debt, but then you are you, not them.
What also isn’t regularly mentioned is reserves and assets. The Town of Parry Sound maintains reserves that are higher than average in terms of both dollars and percentage of tax revenues.
A saying we have in our house is that you don’t need to put other people down to make yourself look better. The Town of Parry Sound and Sequin Township have quite different business models that are built to meet the needs of their residents. Comparing the two isn’t fair, and Parry Sound’s debt is actually a benefit for Seguin residents by providing the infrastructure that can support big box stores, an area hospital, and even places of worship and social services that would be less tenable if they had to depend on well and septic systems. As a Parry Sound champion, I understand the benefits that we bring to our municipal neighbours. I am not so sure what benefits our municipal neighbours provide for Parry Sound residents. I know I can’t park my car in many municipalities to go kayaking without worrying about a ticket. Some may argue that our municipal neighbours spend their dollars and support Parry Sound businesses. If you look closely you will find that many, if not most, of these Parry Sound businesses are owned by folks who live not in Parry Sound, but in the surrounding municipalities.
In the end it all works pretty well. There is no need to throw stones at each other’s business model.
For those of you wanting to better understand the Town of Parry Sound financial situation, hopefully Parry Sound Council candidates who have never attended a budget meeting, here are a couple of documents that should be helpful.
2018 Town of Parry Sound Budget Presentation (2018-12-12)
(Note: original post edited to clear up the ‘they’ references.)