Council needs to considers those just getting by during budget deliberations

Next week, Prince Edward County council will embark on its first budgetting exercise without training wheels. In 2019, a mostly newer council joined together for a process that was unknown to some of them and contained language and acronyms foreign to most sitting around the horseshoe.

Council developed operational and capital expense budgets that were mostly shepherded by staff and a tax increase was levied.

Sure, there were justifications and explanations-commitments from the previous council were honoured, but, depending on your outlook on that process, council was either was either led down the proverbial primrose path by a staff that could smell blood in the water and knew the time drew nigh for the wants and wishes for a particular department or that council would have been shirking its municipal responsibility to provide safe, reliable and effective services had they stood defiant-no matter how unsure some might have been given their neophyte status.

We’d like to think the truth in last year’s process lies somewhere in the middle-Council was able to stem the tide somewhat in a ‘first year of a new term’ budget process and may well have bent on some things but didn’t break on others.

This year’s process guarantees to be different. A year older, a year wiser, the governors of the community should have an accurate lay of the land when it comes to how each service delivered by the municipality works-what the wants and the needs are and how effective and necessary it all is to the taxpayer.

This information will help guide Council through what will surely be a strained process given the situation. No one likes paying property taxes to start with and the fan club for property tax increases is still awaiting its first charter member.

What we would ask councillors as they embark on deliberations next week is to place themselves in the shoes of a young family trying to scratch out an existence in Prince Edward County.

Between mortgage and rent and other living expenses, it costs comparatively more for the simple pleasure of living in this municipality. That fact, combined with an economy based on tourism and the seasonal nature of that apparatus, is seriously stressing the cultural fabric of Prince Edward County.

Every year it seems harder for families to reside here and it’s nearly impossible for young County natives to stay and start their adult life here.

We won’t presume to be in the same league as the denizens of the county coffee shops who can dissect every motion emerging from Shire Hall with a nano knife but it says here an increase in the housing stock-whichever way council can foster that development- would be a sage move, especially in places where new homes can connect to water and waster water services.

An increase in the tax base and more users for an high cost system that beleaguers users seems like a good place to start-particularly in light of projected provincial clawbacks.

MAID TO ORDER

This week we shared the story of a Picton woman who was suffering from a degenerative disc disease and was unable to successfully navigate Canada’s Medical Assistance in Dying program.

With her condition worsening and no cure or even effective pain relief available, Madeline felt trapped in a “body that was failing her” and, with no options left, she took her own life through an overdose of pain medication in late July, 2017.

This story is presented in the context of the Department of Justice calling for public comment and isn’t presented to necessarily sway your opinion on the MAID program but to show what some people in our community when faced with never ending chronic pain are enduring when they can no longer bear their condition.

We don’t envy policymakers when it comes time to sift through current MAID criteria and make addendums based on the completed questionaries Canadians will fill out this week on this very sensitive and complicated issue but a national discussion and more understanding about who are and aren’t being granted access to the MAID program can only help what is designed to be a compassionate process.

-Jason Parks