Candidates have second quarrel over taxes

Mayoral candidate Rory Ring says council is increasing taxes unnecessarily but incumbent Christian Provenzano counters his challenger doesn't understand how taxes work or is misleading voters.

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A mayoral candidate charges that city council is wasting taxpayer money by spending $600,000 on garbage trucks that will cost an extra $450,000 to operate over the next eight years, thus resulting in a one percent budget increase for taxpayers.

Rory Ring urged residents to watch Monday’s night council meeting and watch the spend, which he deemed unnecessary.

In the end, the matter was deferred to a future meeting because of a tender process issue. It’s expected to return to council at its Sept. 24 meeting.

However the funding to purchase two new garbage trucks will come from a reserve fund and not impact city taxpayers in any way.

Mayor Christian Provenzano countered that Ring has talked about taxes twice and in both cases he has shown he doesn’t understand how taxes work or he’s misrepresenting how they work.

Ring argues that city’s council decision to contract out garbage collection for only half the city, and use resources for the other half, is a perfect example of how Sault Ste. Marie can do better.


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Ring says the system will cost taxpayers more than $1 million and in effect result in a one per cent tax increase.

A $1.1 million increase in spending is equivalent to a one per cent tax hike.

Ring says the difference between the contractor costs and the city costs is $55,000 per year for eight years, totalling $450,000 and the purchase of two new vehicles at a cost of $600,000.

If I were mayor, I would have guided council to ensure that first and foremost we save as much money as possible and lessen the burden on taxpayers,” he said.

Provenzano said the garbage truck purchases are coming from reserves. Reserves is part of the levy so the purchase doesn’t raise the levy, he said.

The cost to maintain our current service levels and not privatize the entire service is $55,000 and “that isn’t anywhere near a per cent. It’s a matter of reducing the levy by $55,000 and we chose not to do that because although we’d have a savings in the short-term, in the longer term the evidence shows it would cost the municipality more,” Provenzano said.

Data presented to city council showed that if the city got out of the waste disposal process, the price of contracted services could increase.

I think it was a very responsible decision of this council and I think it showed good leadership from this council,” Provenzano said. “We weren’t opportunists who would decrease a cost to look good in the short term but create a problem for a future council down the road.”


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Provenzano said that is what Ring is advocating. “Frankly, it’s silly to put out a press release and say that I was going to raise the taxes tonight by $1 million. There is no connection with what he said and reality. He can run his campaign that way if he likes and I’ll run mine the way I see fit.”

A staff report presented to city council in July said the hybrid system of household waste collection was the best option for Sault Ste. Marie. Contracting the entire system out could result in increasing costs in future years, something uncontrollable by the city especially if it sells its trucks and rids of its personnel.

Ring argues that at the end of the contract the city would not be held hostage as the mayor believes, because there are many contractors in the waste business who would welcome an opportunity to compete locally.

At minimum council has the ability to divide the contract between two service providers with contracts ending at different dates,” he said. “I would have encouraged council to take the savings that are available today and for the next eight years to avoid any tax increase to residents.”

Provenzano said the approved system won’t result in any increases to taxpayers.

Ring vows that one of his platform’s key elements is that he will not raise taxes.

Some feel it’s not possible and could result in service cuts, but we know from the experience in other cities that it can be done,” he said in his press release.

Also running for mayor are candidates Ted Johnston and Kemal Martinovic.

They municipal election is Oct. 22.

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