Radical cuts can’t be accomplished without harm – anyone who says different, like the city council candidate above, is presenting an illusion. Actual St. Albert city council candidates may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: The philosopher Aristotle.
A St. Albertan has asked me the tough question that all city council candidates are going to have to face one way or another.
My interlocutor politely writes:
… Please take the time to respond to my two brief questions below which pertain to St. Albert taxes, I would greatly appreciate it:
- Do you agree that St. Albert taxes need to be lowered? Yes or No.
- If yes, how would you accomplish it?
That cuts right to the chase. Here are the answers I gave this questioner:
- The only way to lower our taxes in the immediate term is to cut important programs and services that will hurt our local economy, make St. Albert a far less desirable place to live, and as a consequence lower our property values and our quality of life. Any candidate who tells you anything different is cynically offering you a heaping serving of baloney in hopes of getting your vote.
- There are lots of ways to lower our taxes relative to other tax rates in the region and our ability to pay in the longer term, including regional co-operation to cut the costs of region-wide services, developing fast and efficient public transit, encouraging the right mix of businesses and residences to provide a greater percentage of business to residential taxes without damaging the character of our community, working co-operatively with other levels of government to seek a fairer tax-revenue sharing regime in the Capital Region, and ensuring that qualities and services that make St. Albert a desirable, destination community are maintained.
In other words, the best course is balancing fiscal discipline with maintaining the qualities that make St. Albert a great place to live.
Nor is it the message they are getting from politicians who either want to keep their heads down on this issue or who are cynically prepared to mislead voters with promises that radical tax cuts can be implemented without doing real harm.
There are no easy answers, alas.
The philosopher Aristotle famously advised us: “In all things, moderation.” This advice from long ago applies to tax policy too.
Radical tax cutting is a false hope that will hurt all of us all in the short term and hurt us even more in the longer term.
Calling for fiscal prudence and common sense may not be sexy, but they add up to the prudent, sensible and adult course of action that our community deserves.
That’s where I stand.