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OPINION: Subsidies for Three Rivers

-Submitted
-Submitted - Contributed

The government is using provincial tax dollars to help discriminate against rural P.E.I.

BY GARY ROBBINS

GUEST OPINION

By now, most of you have heard that a deal has been worked out with Montague and Georgetown to include them in the Three Rivers Amalgamation. It also includes all the unincorporated with no consultation and no say in the matter.

The deal includes rather large subsidies by the province, so in case Premier Wade MacLauchlan forgot to thank you, I will do it for him. The province is using your tax dollars to help discriminate against rural P.E.I. The fact that you are all paying for the fall of democracy for 70 per cent of P.E.I., thanks to the new Municipal Government Act (MGA).

In Three Rivers, you will subsidize the tax rate (yes, all Islanders) for the residents of the area. The unincorporated are being subsidized at 5 cents and the small incorporated areas at 4 cents per 100 for the next five years. By the way, when the new council takes office, they can set the tax rates at whatever they see fit.

Thank you, Charlottetown, Summerside and all other areas, for your tax dollars to provide $200,000 per year in subsidies to implement this project that most residents don’t want and voted against. A vote of 431 for and 1,428 against was ignored. Thank you to the municipalities who will be giving up part of their gas tax so that the Three Rivers forced annexation could take place.

We are getting .95 per person (the rate for a municipality that provides sewer and water) for all 7,200 residents even though most of us are not receiving these services. That’s an extra $376,000 for Three Rivers. By giving us more, it means you will get less because the gas tax is a fixed amount for the province.

Of course, the premier will probably fix this inequity by raising the tax you pay for gas to increase the fund. But I’m sure to aid the premier and his party, you won’t mind. This is how the MGA came about. The province created a problem by implementing new requirements and then offered amalgamation as the solution.

Did I forget to mention that provincial taxes will likely need to be raised to pay for the premier’s dream of creating 25 super municipalities across the Island. Don’t forget, he’s saving you money by reducing municipalities from 73 to 25 and incorporating the 70 per cent of the Island that is currently unincorporated.

It sounds reasonable to say you are reducing the number of councillors, but most of them are volunteers. Now we will have 10-12 paid councillors (or more) for Three Rivers for a population of 7,200 people. All the new hires, and all the employees who are currently part of the seven communities (no one was laid off) are guaranteed a good salary, guaranteed 2 per cent raises every year and a pension. What a savings!

This is creating a second level of government, duplication of services, new buildings, increased bylaws and regulations, and of course new people to administer everything. BTW, all current capital debt carried by Montague and Georgetown will be picked up by Three Rivers – and subsidized by the people of P.E.I.

Another thank you for the extra $1 million that was granted to Three Rivers for strategic infrastructure. So please, work all the extra hours you can, get a second job or work overtime because the premier really, really needs your tax dollars to force annexation on rural P.E.I.

Thank you for your time (and your tax dollars).

Gary Robbins of Martinvale is a retired veteran

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