The results of the budget survey that was done by the Town of Bancroft was released during Tuesday’s Finance and Administration Committee meeting.
80 people responding to the survey, with 20-percent 20 to 39 years old, 34-percent were between 50 and 69 and 10-percent were 70 years old.
“The results are very interesting,” Mayor of Bancroft Paul Jenkins says.
Respondents were asked to put down what they felt was the most important service or program to the community. Fire services were ranked the highest, followed by roads and bridges and essential services like sewers, water and stormwater management. The landfill, recycling programs, youth engagement, community safety and well-being, and curbside garbage pick-up were also ranked highly. Fire services were also said by respondents to be the best-delivered service to the community. Curbside pick-up was second, landfill, recycling programs, and household hazardous waste were also high-up on people’s lists. Youth engagement, promoting economic development, affordable housing, and tourism services were near the bottom.
The survey also asked about the most important issues facing the Town, with the state of municipal infrastructure (capital assets, roads, bridges, water and wastewater infrastructure), environment/environmental issues/sustainability were last.
42-percent said they were satisfied with the overall quality of services provided by the Town to residents and businesses, with 20-percent saying they were unsatisfied.
With the survey being about the Town’s budget, respondents were asked about balancing the 2020 budget. Of the four options, the top was introducing user fees to services that don’t already have one attached, with increasing property taxes last. “User fees have been something we’ve looked at for some time,” Jenkins says. He adds that it’s interesting that respondents would rather that than a tax increase.
It was nearly an even split when respondents were asked if they were willing to see a two-percent tax increase in order to maintain services. 46-percent said yes, while 53-percent said no. If that same increase enhanced services though, 66-percent said they would not be for it, while 33-percent said they would be okay with it. Jenkins says the definition of “maintaining” and “enhancing” needs to be better detailed. “Some people may view them synonymously, or view enhancing as just maintaining,” he adds.
“In the long run enhancing it will attract more people to live here,” Jenkins says. “The more we have and the more sharing the cost the better our ability to keep tax rates as low as possible.”
While disappointed with how few people responded, Jenkins say he’s always happy to put out surveys to gauge the community’s opinion. He points to the community hub/library project that is underway. It was originally targetted to be on the property where CLub 580 currently sits, but after putting out a survey, the response came back and the community was overwhelmingly in favour of having it right downtown instead.