- by Jim Hutton

There is no doubt that we are headed for difficult economic times. The rising costs of essentials, like groceries and fuel, mean that people will have less money to support Grey-Bruce businesses.

However you have a unique opportunity to reduce the impact on local businesses by raising the issue of high property taxes, that are strangling the local economy, when you attend the Meet City Council event on Thursday, Mar. 23. 

Most Grey-Bruce businesses have customers who are Owen Sound taxpayers. Owen Sound properties have been over taxed for many years as a result of years loosely controlled city expenses.

We are now at a point where we spend twice as much on property taxes then our neighbours in Georgian Bluffs. When you mention this to members of council they will brag that the 2023 tax increase was historically lower than other municipalities.

However, when you read the latest BMA Report it will tell you that a Georgian Bluffs homeowner pays $1,806 in taxes for a property that costs an Owen Sound homeowner $4,210 in taxes. That’s $2,404 per homeowner that’s not available to spend on local businesses’ products and services.

The fact is that having a smaller tax increase than others is not going to negate 20 years of excessive spending at city hall. The math tells us that it will take 60 years to close the gap at this rate. Council needs to address the root cause of high taxes; that is, excessive spending and, in particular, excessive hiring.

Strathroy-Caradoc has a population slightly greater than Owen Sound – 23,871 as compared to 21,612 and delivers almost identical services. However, they spend $5.8 million less than Owen Sound on salaries and benefits, not including protective services.  They also employ 14 fewer managers and have 10 fewer employees on the sunshine list, not including those in protective services.

This data can be easily reproduced using the audited financial statements available on both municipal websites.

When I compared Owen Sound to eight other similarly sized, urban municipalities, delivering very similar services I found that Owen Sound led the pack when it came to non-protective services salary expense. The average municipality spent $8.9 million while Owen Sound spent $13 million on non-protective services salary expense. That’s about $4 million that’s not available to spend in local businesses each and every year.

To see how I came up with the $4 million figure, please go to my website.


When you ask members of council why they didn’t address this disparity in the 2023 budget, they will tell you that they are waiting for a consultant’s report.

Yes, instead of simply reading the BMA Reports and reviewing some audit financials, which could have been done at no cost taxpayers, they chose an avoidance strategy.

Spending tax dollars on a lengthy and expensive consultant study instead of reviewing the available data and taking action is not leadership, it's avoidance and ossification. A little critical thinking and analysis is all that’s needed.

It’s time for Council to do what every Grey-Bruce business has to do during challenging times – cut expenses.

By doing so, they will undoubtedly stimulate local business, by leaving $4 million in the hands of taxpayers each year.





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