Simcoe County should ease the burden on companies to keep jobs as well as attract new ones as it sets taxes this year, some county politicians say. With a $437-million budget that requires a 3.4 per cent tax hike, the county must now set tax ratios — that is, how to spread the bill among the classes of properties, such as residential, commercial and farm. Based on last year’s practices, a home assessed at $200,000 would see an increase of $19.59. But the county has the option of using certain tax tools to protect — and even stimulate — business. Shifting more of the tax burden to residential from industrial is one method. “Most folks in economic development recognize job growth comes from existing, not new, businesses,” said Collingwood Mayor Chris Carrier, who urged the county’s strategic Performance Management Committee to recommend the change. “We can take a leadership role. We have a diverse base in Collingwood and I do realize it would mean shifting (taxes) onto residents, but it could mean stronger employment for Collingwood and our neighbours as well.” In these tough times, giving business a break could mean the difference between being profitable and being unprofitable or locating here or going elsewhere, added Essa Mayor David Guergis. “We had a company looking to build two plants. We thought they were coming. But they went to the United States,” Guergis said. “Now the taxes are zero and the jobs are zero, and they’re gone to the U.S. The development charge loss is huge. “(A break on taxes) could make a difference on your bottom line on whether you’re profitable or not. It’s not a big burden for the ratepayers to hold jobs. It might mean $15 more and being able to keep and attract factories.” County councillors have until April 30 to set the tax-ratio policy, and are expected to discuss the issue at a strategic planning session March 31
Barrie Police officers say trauma to a man’s body found in Sunnidale Park Monday morning was self inflicted. After cordoning off the area and remaining at the scene throughout the day, Barrie Police reported a 27-year-old man died from self-inflicted wounds during a press conference at 5 p.m. A dog walker found him at approximately 9:30 a.m., with obvious signs of trauma to his body. The body was found on the south side of the park, past a playground and down a hill. “We can’t say how he met his demise,” said Sgt. Robert Allan. “We are examining the scene for more information, but it’s suspicious.” Close to a dozen officers set up a perimeter around the park, asking joggers, dog walkers and parents with children to stay out for the day. Recreational users should head to the waterfront, said Allan. He wasn’t sure how long the body had been there, but said officers are looking for tips within the last day. “It’s a well-travelled area and this is the largest park in Barrie, there are many community events here. We’re asking people who were here within the last 24 hours to call us with any information, even if they think they didn’t see anything suspicious.”
New Tecumseth council is planning to pass the 2009 budget Monday night. Currently the tax increase sits at 1.49 per cent. For the average home assessed at $255,159 that represents an increase of $27.14 annually. Because the town signed onto the OPP contract last year and it included an increase in funding for additional officers, 1.03 per cent of the increase can’t be reduced. That means the portion of the budget council can control is increasing .43 per cent. Monday night, Coun. Dennis Egan proposed the town use a portion of the tax stabilization fund to pay for the controllable impact on residents this year. While Egan had the support of Coun. Jim Stone, the remainder of council was not in favour of depleting the stabilization fund. Mayor Mike MacEachern said that the economic challenges are going to continue and cautioned against tapping into the stabilization fund. Coun. Jamie Smith said if the town covered the .43 per cent, essentially they are spending their savings account. He said a slight increase in taxes is not unconscionable and thinks the budget as it is right now is reasonable. There are some budget items that are still to be hashed out Monday. The most contentious so far has been the field house at the Mel Mitchell playing fields in Beeton. When the field house project was proposed it had a $100,000 price tag, half coming from the town and half from fundraising and in-kind donations. At a January budget meeting a decision on the field house was put off until February, when council could see designs. At that meeting the project cost was $200,000. When the designs were brought forward at a February budget meeting, a new cost estimate of $331,250 was attached to the two-phase project. Several options for the field house project are going to be presented at the March 9 committee of the whole meeting, including a scaled back version of the project. Depending upon which design council chooses, it could mean an increase in the budget. Irrigation of the 14th Line sports fields is the other item up for discussion at the meeting.
Dave Simmons is a rare bird. The Belle Ewart resident has won Lotto 6/49 not once, but twice in 2009. The 64-year-old design engineer won $224,639 in the Jan. 24 draw. He then followed up with a $19,055 win in the Feb. 21 draw. The first ticket was purchased at Sobey’s in Alcona. Simmons purchased his second ticket at Shopper’s Drug Mart on Innisfil Beach Road. “I checked my (second) ticket at the store,” Simmons said. “I feel fantastic and I am very pleased.” Married, Simmons said he planned to use part of his double windfall to help out his church and take a trip. Ontario Lottery and Gaming commission media spokesperson Teresa Roncon said winning in back-to-back months “is a fairly rare occurrence. I can’t recall the last time that’s happened. It’s just random chance. Congratulations to Dave.”
Orillia’s recently minted emergency department is already “bursting at the seams,” as staff faces surging patient numbers, says Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital president and CEO Elisabeth Riley. The new ER was designed to accommodate 50,000 patient visits annually. “By the end of this fiscal year (March 31), we will see approximately 53,000 patients,” Riley said. Compounding the problem is a shortage of long-term care spaces in the community. Additional spaces are needed to free up hospital beds currently occupied by patients awaiting placement in nursing homes, she said. Increased support for home-care services is equally essential. “Addressing the issue surrounding alternate level of care patients is one that requires significant attention and a sustainable solution,” Riley added. The rising number of so-called A-L-C patients “has a significant impact on the hospital’s ability to admit patients through emergency, which results in many patients being admitted without a bed, and ending up waiting in emergency,” she added. A shortage of family physicians places added pressure on already overburdened emergency departments, she said. The issue was among several Riley raised in a recent presentation to Simcoe North MPP Garfield Dunlop, during his annual pre-budget consultation. Finances are also a concern. Although Ontario hospitals are “well into” crafting their budgets for the coming year, the province has yet to confirm whether it will boost their base funding by slightly more than 2 per cent, as earlier indicated. Also unknown is how Orillia’s hospital will pay for an estimated $25 million in mandated upgrades to its Information Technology system over the next five years. “There is no indication where that money will come from,” Riley added. Much of the federal and provincial funding is being allocated to the creation of an Internet-based “pipeline” that will connect these services, Riley said. “That only gets the service to the door of the hospital,” she added. “But then, it’s up to the hospital to build its own internal capacity, which will be an enormous challenge.” Riley said the province must ensure hospitals receive adequate funding “so they can build the technology that our patients deserve.” Elsewhere, older areas of the hospital require costly upgrades to physical infrastructure, such as boilers and transformers. “A hospital shouldn’t have to take money away from bedside care to pay for issues like this,” Riley added. The hospital is working with the region’s Local Health Integration Network and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care “to ensure our voice is heard at the most senior levels,” she said.
Tia Shea had lots of fun posing for the camera while her mother Amanda took this picture for her Easter scrapbook layout. She looks like she is going to have a fantastic Easter weekend, Are you? If you have an interesting, unique, beautiful or funny photograph you would like to share with Herald readers in our Parting Shots feature, e-mail a good quality jpeg copy to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or drop off a hard copy to us at our offices at 169 Dufferin St. S., in Alliston. It’s just past the Alliston Legion. Parting Shots can be found inside the back page of both our Tuesday and Weekend editions and a full gallery of past Parting Shots is posted in our photo gallery section of our website.
A call to an all-girls boarding school on the evening of March 19 in Grey Highlands, south of Meaford, has led to criminal charges against an unruly student. Grey County O.P.P. responded to the call just after 6 pm. A 15-year old female had run away into a nearby wooded area. Concern grew as darkness approached and temperatures dropped because it was known she was not dressed in winter clothing. As the investigator made arrangements for the deployment of an O.P.P. Canine Unit the runaway returned. After returning she became defiant and threatened to leave again. She then physically assaulted her mother and the officer in attendance. Charged with the Criminal Code offenses of Assault and Assault Police is a 15 year-old female with an out of province address. She was held in custody over night but has now been released and is scheduled for first appearance in the Youth Justice Court-Owen Sound on April 21.
A collision between a dump truck and a car south of Alliston Tuesday morning sent two people to hospital. The crash happened at Church Street South and Industrial Parkway. A silver car was southbound on Church. The driver had a green light and turned left onto Industrial. A westbound dump truck went through a red light, hitting the car, police said. The driver and passenger in the car were taken to Stevenson Memorial Hospital with undisclosed injuries. They have since been released. The driver of the dump truck, a 56-year-old Essa man, is facing Highway Traffic Act charges for failing to stop at a red light.