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Midland Mayor warns of potential 7% tax hike

As budget season slowly approaches, at least one municipality in Simcoe County is warning its residents of a potential tax hike as high as 7 percent.

The Mayor of Midland warns that significant budgetary drivers for the Town and a 5 percent target set by the County of Simcoe could have taxpayers reaching further into their pockets next year.

"We either need to cut our costs in spending, which we don't have a lot of latitude in, and the second thing is to find new revenue sources," said Mayor Bill Gordon. "We can't keep losing money in these services."

Mayor Gordon said inflationary costs attributed to labour and other utilities have driven costs to roughly $638,000, while other expenditures like an estimated $234,000 increase to the OPP's budget and $125,000 loss from Tiny Township's withdrawal from recreational services also pinching the Town.

Midland is also looking to revisit its controversial parking program, introduced by the previous council last year. Mayor Gordon said the Town is down $250,000 this year due to the system.

"If we're going to walk away from that revenue source, then we at least need to break even," he added.

Mayor Gordon has proposed several options that he's asking residents to weigh in on to avoid directly taxing them to alleviate those costs.

One would make parking free through a subsidized special downtown tax levy, paid for by downtown businesses. The Mayor said that subsidy would cost business owners $780 per year.

"The Business Improvement Association (BIA) does not endorse the imposition of an additional levy on our members, local businesses, and property owners to shoulder the burden of the existing parking system's debt and the future expenses associated with providing free parking. However, we wholeheartedly support the idea of free parking in our downtown core," said Nicole French, Midland BIA Board Chair, in a statement. "It is unreasonable to expect us to bear the consequences of the Town's mismanagement of the current parking system. The Town's decision to implement paid parking, executed poorly, has led to financial losses."

There is still plenty of time to weigh in on the Town's budget, with the Mayor actively encouraging residents to come forward with their concerns and suggestions.

Budgetary talks are slated to begin later this fall, and the first draft of the budget is expected to be finished by December.

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