Friday, November 10, 2006

Connie Graham, Ward 8

As preparation for our candidate endorsements for the 2006 London civic election, we invited candidates for council, board of control and mayor to respond to a short checkmark questionnaire in October to help us with our evaluation. Some of the responses from candidates were very informative and were invaluable contributions to our decision-making, and we have been publishing excerpts from several of them over the past week, including responses from Robert Vaughan in Ward 12 and Chester Chwiecko in Ward 9. Below are excerpts from Connie Graham's responses to the questionnaire. We have endorsed her candidacy for council in Ward 8.

Residential property taxes have increased by 5.9, 6.63 and 2.95 per cent from 2004 to 2006 respectively. Can future residential tax increases be mitigated without cutting spending?
__ Yes, through assessment growth and/or increased provincial and federal subsidies/grants and/or increasing taxes or charges to commercial and industrial properties;
No, spending must be reduced;
__ It doesn’t matter: taxes must conform to municipal spending requirements whatever they may be.

Comments: According to the City of Edmonton Economic Development survey of fiscal 2005, London is the highest taxed municipality of any its size in Canada (inc. water and sewer surcharges). Inexcusable. We have overspent to the point where we think it is normal or unavoidable. Nonsense. Manage this $850 million corporation responsibly by setting clear priorities and living within the taxpayer's means.
During the past few years, large budget surpluses from the previous year have been announced after the current budget has been approved. If a budget surplus is announced again, do you favour:
__ Allocating the revenue to debt repayment;
Re-opening the budget to provide tax relief;
__ Re-investing municipal programs or agencies identified as having been shortchanged by the most recent budget;
__ A combination of A and B;
__ A combination of any other two or all of the above.

Comments: A surplus is nothing more than overtaxation, and should be returned to Londoners.
Would you vote for a budget that includes an overall increase in spending?
__ Yes
__ Yes, as long as spending increases are held to the rate of inflation
__ Yes, as long as spending increases are less than the rate of inflation

Comments: This is my commitment to Ward 8 residents and all Londoners. Their call, loud and clear, is for residential tax relief, and that is what I will be working for as their City Council representative.
Additional comments: I will fight for tax and spending cuts. Lower residential taxation will boost London's economic competitiveness - meaning better paying jobs for London families, increased ability to attract medical professionals, etc. I believe Council must prioritize spending in areas of core services and infrastructure. Until core responsibilities are delivered with excellence, other budget items must take a back seat.