Council candidates are considering how $32 million from the sale of railroad assets should be spent | bloginfo(‘name’); ?> | So Good News


October 13, 2022 · 0 comments

By Sam Odrowski

Orangeville’s $32 million sale of railroad assets has many residents wondering how it might be used by a new council.

With the local election just weeks away, scheduled for October 24, the Citizen asked the local council candidates how they would spend the money.

This was their response:

Debbie Sherwood

“The $32 million recently returned from the sale of the railroad lots is currently sitting in reserves and earning interest. It has always been my position that since the taxpayers of Orangeville have paid over $10 million in property taxes over the past 20 years, owes the money back to Orangeville taxpayers,” Sherwood said.

“With public involvement, we need to make good, sound decisions about how best to use these funds. I am not going to approve of using it only for wishes, but will make sure it is used for the benefit of all. It should remain in investments until decisions can be made by the public. I would like to see some of the annual interest used to reduce property taxes over the next 10-20 years as a form of repayment and the balance used strategically for projects.”

Rick Stevens

Stevens said, “This is one of the most important decisions facing the new Orangeville Town Council next term. If elected, I will seek community input and form a committee that I would like to sit on with our residents, made up of different groups with different ideas.”

He added that this would be the only fair way to proceed.

Stevens said he opposes using the money to cover property taxes, but parks and recreation is an area it should be spent on, as outdoor parks need improvement and recreation facilities need repair.

“I would love the opportunity to build an indoor facility with a grass field, football, cricket, baseball, soccer and lacrosse could all use it along with lawn bowling, pickle ball, volleyball, basketball and possibly a tennis court,” Stevens said.

He noted that this will depend on cost, but is on his wish list for both young and old residents.

Joe Andrews

“With the $32 million financial windfall from the sale of the Orangeville Railway Lands, this is where the Orangeville taxpayer can actually provide guidance and input. I want in the new council term to hold a public hearing to educate the people of Orangeville how this windfall came about and examine the best way to disperse and use those funds,” Andrews said. “Currently, the funds are invested to ensure further economic growth before deciding where to redirect some of those taxpayer dollars. In my opinion, it is crucial to address a possible recreation project, an affordable housing initiative or something innovative that will become an urban legacy for generations to enjoy. Let the citizens of Orangeville decide the best way to spend this money.”

Peggy Bond

“I wanted to pay off the city’s debt first. Under the 2022 budget, our budgeted principal payments for 2023 are $2.8 million and the debt interest payment is $1.3 million,” Bond said.

“In 2031, the total is projected to be $3 million with $1.2 million of that being interest. That’s $10 million spent over 8 years on just the interest to keep the city in debt. A contribution of even half of 32 million dollars from the sale of railroad land would save significant dollars over time. With the remaining money, I would suggest that we have input from community members on how this money should be spent. Some possibilities;

“1. Zero percent tax increase that would give all citizens a financial break from the rising prices of everything else in the world today.

“2. Free access to the hiking trail for seniors and a free exercise class once a week in winter to increase mobility, socialization and improve health.”

Grant Spence

“Some of the money should be invested — 20-25 percent of it would be plenty,” Spence said.

“Citizens of Orangeville also have the right to voice their ideas and opinions here.”

He noted that more resources should be dedicated to parks and recreation, which is “lagging behind

its development.”

“[The] the city could consider building a facility for training programs dedicated to youth/high school students and potential employees, as they make up the majority of part-time workers during our summer months,” said Spence. “A year-round indoor/outdoor swimming pool, a proper outdoor ice rink, or a year-round bike/skate park is all I’ve heard people in this town ask for.”

Developing these options will provide youth with better recreational opportunities, he said.

Spence added that with successful events such as the Blues and Jazz Festival, Ribfest and a provincial youth baseball tournament, there is a demand for a multi-use park and venue for live music or recreation to accommodate the municipality’s growth.

James Jackson

“We have a huge housing problem,” Jackson said. “One of my ideas is to look at a group business venture with all levels of government and other interested parties for a low-income housing/senior complex.”

A cultural center and improvements to Tony Rose will also be considered.

Jackson said a “one-time tax return” wastes the money, but he will work hard to get zero or minimal tax increases for Orangeville.

He added, with a “worldwide recession” and the cost of everything rising, the city can’t be frivolous with the money, and 75 percent of it should be kept on hand to cover any unexpected cost increases for capital projects.

“If we leave it in a high-interest account, we can use the $1.6 million it would earn in interest to do these capital projects and help offset tax increases,” Jackson said. “The ideas are endless, but we can’t be stupid about it.”

Tess Prendergast

“The 32 million belongs to the citizens of Orangeville, the community will dictate, through conversation, debate, town hall meeting, etc., the future use of these funds. I will support the citizens’ collective vision, whether it is to continue to invest the proceeds and use the interest to pay for capital projects and infrastructure maintenance, invest in a large-scale recreation complex, senior housing development, community heritage project or a combination of both,” Prendergast said.

“The new council will be tasked with obtaining input from residents before embarking on major projects. I support exploring new recreational facilities that benefit everyone, senior/youth housing, or other large community legacy projects guided by the collective vision of the community. All the while, earnings from the Orangeville Rail Yard will remain invested and accrue interest. There is no need to rush to a decision – the council should take a sensible, measured approach when discussing this matter and allocating the funds.”

Andy Macintosh

“This money is currently sitting in a high interest account, I see no rush to move it yet. I think the new council needs to look at our immediate needs, is it something that needs to be repaired, or something that the city needs and needs to borrow money for? Of course the citizens have to be involved, after all it is their money that has been taken away – $450,000 a year for the last 20 years, Macintosh said. “One of the suggestions I’ve heard is to use it to lower the tax rate, which I strongly disagree with. The city’s last tax increase was 0.83 percent and the year before it was 0.97 percent – much lower than that you won’t , and what happens when the money runs out after being kept artificially low? You will be in for a very large increase, so no.”

Ximena Butko

Butko said: “One of the most important responsibilities of our local council is to make sure we are accountable and forward thinking when putting together a budget. A focus on capital improvements or infrastructure, paying down debt, building reserves to improve resilience, the growing demand for affordable and attainable housing, support of new recreational facilities, and first-hand understanding of the issues facing Orangeville residents, while considering their proposals and ideas. , are some of the ways we can work together in planning for this fortunate windfall our wonderful city has got.”

She added, “Overall, helping our city provide fiscally responsible and efficient services will be my guiding principle.”

Nick Garisto

“For now, I want to hold public town meetings to find out from the taxpayers where they would like to see the money spent,” Garisto said


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