Area rating of property taxes affects all of us. The Citizens' Forum is an innovative attempt to do citizen engagement on area rating in a more meaningful, productive way.
By Paul Johnson
Published September 21, 2010
At this very moment, we are in the midst of an innovative exercise in democracy in this municipality. That is the Citizens' Forum on Area Rating of Property Tax. This represents an effort by the city to do citizen engagement in a more meaningful, productive way.
The Citizens' Forum is a group of regular citizens who are volunteering their time to learn about and deliberate over this important public issue on behalf of all of us.
The group was selected from a random sample of citizens. The names of over 2100 people were generated from the tax rolls in May and surveyed for their interest in this process.
Twenty citizens who demographically reflect our community - one per ward plus five at-large who represent a cluster of wards - have been selected from the respondents to consider the issue of area rating on behalf of the community. They will be making a recommendation to the new City Council.
I have the pleasure of chairing the Steering Committee that is overseeing this process for the city. I am working alongside Tom Cooper, Matt Leighninger, Cathy McMaster and Mary Wiebe and the project team.
The Forum members are eager to hear from you and there are different ways you can participate. One public meeting took place this week, but a second one is scheduled for September 29 at Sherwood Public Library from 5:45- 8:00 pm. You can register on-line or by calling 905-546-2424 ext 3378.
These meetings are different from the typical public meeting. Formal presentations are welcomed but small group discussions will also occur as a way of ensuring everyone has a chance to contribute. You can also submit your thoughts through the Citizens' Forum website.
The project team has developed an Issue Book that you are encouraged to read before you submit your conclusions to the Forum. Copies should be available at the Municipal Service Centres and Public Libraries or downloaded from the website [PDF link].
This process will be less effective than it can be without your input. Area rating affects us all and your voice is crucial to the process.
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