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General News · 28th February 2010
Walter Nugent
I am sorry that the Cortes community did not see fit to pass Bylaw 55. I commend our regional director Noba, for sticking to the main issue which was not about transparency or taxes increases so much as to whether Cortes Community Halls are of sufficient benefit to the community to warrant monetary support from island residents. The numerous authors publishing in the community forums during the Bylaw 55 comment period were mostly off-topic from this point of view and seemed a little too keen on proving their points to actually provide more than half-truths or innuendo to the discussion.

In sympathy with the other authors commenting on Bylaw 55 I will now go off-topic and say that the proposed method of generating revenue for the halls is what is known as a “progressive tax” because more revenues are collected from those with higher property tax evaluations who are fewer in number and ostensibly more able to pay; and less revenues are collected from the much more numerous islanders with lower property tax assessments. I will leave it as an exercise for the reader to understand why a flat tax is called a “regressive tax”, (hint: most of the islanders who have lower property assessments carry even more of the tax burden). For those very few who have millions of dollars in tax assessments but insist that they are still like most of the rest of us, all I can say is wake up and smell the coffee. Anyone who claims that they are going to pay $X amount for Bylaw 55 based on some simple math calculations is not telling you the truth, for as in death, the details of tax implementation are complex and anything but straightforward. The assumption that property taxes will increase by the amount mentioned in Bylaw 55 is probably even less likely than the suggestion that property taxes will not increase at all as the result of Bylaw 55, as usual the truth lies somewhere in the middle. As to the accusation that the SCCA hid or obfuscated information concerning the Bylaw 55 proposal, I will cite but one of a continuous number of examples, that of the Manson’s Hall AGM two years ago when the condition of the building and the desirability of core funding from the regional district were discussed extensively at this public meeting attended by at least sixty members of the Cortes community. I can only ask that those who claimed there was no transparency from the SCCA or the regional district in this process should come to a hall meeting once in a while or talk to their neighbors more about the issues in our community. The same people who are decrying the lack of transparency in Bylaw 55 are obviously not the ones who are going to make the halls succeed as an all-volunteer organization. If everyone contributed sufficient time to the halls on Cortes there would be no Bylaw 55.

There, I just proved I am no less ignorant than the other commentators on Bylaw 55 by ranting on and on about issues that are beside the important point of this proposal. The main thrust of the discussion should involve maintaining the community halls as a cornerstone in the community. The community halls are larger and provide many more services in a much more professional manner than in the days of old, as is fitting to our growing community. They are an important part of the social fabric of this island. This is true whether you use the halls or not. A community is measured not just by the individuals that inhabit a place but by the networks that are established among the community members both individually and collectively. The halls on this island are examples of collective networks what sociologists would dub “social capital” a clear measure of a community’s viability. The halls are not private fiefdoms but are open and amendable by the community itself. In my experience the halls serve as one of the very first interfaces between the community and newcomers to the island where they can learn our ways and mores. However, I am not here to convince you of what a gem the halls are to our community, (my prejudices are clearly showing), but to ask that the question of whether the halls deserve the monetary support from our island community through regional district funding be the focus for discussion as the Bylaw 55 process continues forward to the next round. Please let us not be distracted from this essential issue by tangential arguments like transparency, or that tax increases are a bad thing, (duh!), or my favorite one about how the regional district is trying to take over our halls. It is ok to take our halls for granted, in fact a well-run hall should by and large be taken for granted, but I do hope that more people who are in favor of the community halls on Cortes and what they do for the community now and in an expanding future will voice their support for establishing a stable money supply to the halls so they can more predictably meet the needs of the island and plan for the future. IF enough of the eligible voters on Cortes turn down the regional district support for the halls in the next go around, I will be saddened again, but I promise not to write another letter to tell you about it.

Walter Nugent
former Manson’s Hall Manager
look up
Comment by sherman on 10th March 2010
Im with you walter.people that complain about not having a small tax increase to support thier own hall?theres bigger fish to do you like supporting a seniof c.r.d. fred bates pulling down a quarter mill per year?travel outside the fish bowl people.
no means no
Comment by Wendy Legare on 5th March 2010
Bylaw 55 is dead...
Let's move on, por favor!
Comment by shane on 2nd March 2010
Thanks Walter. I'm putting my voice behind a tax to help finance the halls This is how the fire department is financed and it seems to work quiet well. The only drawback I know of is there is some struggle between the district and the firefighters association about how the tax dollars will be spent. It would be nice if a re-written bylaw ensured that control of the hall and tax dollars, as well as ownership of the hall and land, would stay 100% within control of the hall board.
thanks Walter
Comment by romina on 2nd March 2010
Don't be too disheartened, there was a large chunk of Cortesians, the majority infact, who did not write voicing any objections, and they deserve and will get fair representation by our elected officials as well.