Summary of candidates’ responses to Invitation 6


Background

With the aim of increasing voter turnout in the upcoming municipal election, candidates for Mayor and Ward Councilor in Prince Edward County are being invited to share their thoughts on a wide range of issues once a week.

The County’s official list of certified candidates includes 4 candidates for Mayor and 29 candidates for Ward Councilor (13 offices in 9 Wards). Eight incumbents are seeking re-election, including the Mayor and 7 Councilors.

Candidates received Invitation 6 on September 23, 2022 and were asked to forward their responses by October 3, 2022. Candidates were allowed 10 days (instead of the usual 5) to respond.

Responses were received from 12 candidates (36.4%) – compared to about 20 candidates (60.6%) who had been responding recently (see RSVPs at a glance).

User fees & service charges

User fees & service charges help fund a range of County services, including water supply, solid waste collection and disposal, protection, transportation, health, recreation, planning, etc. In general, the design of these fees & charges is based on the “benefits-received” principle, sometimes modified using “ability-to-pay” criteria. Decisions about pricing structures and the proportion of costs recovered from user fees & service charges generally depend on considerations such as local tradition, the type of service, the preferences of residents, and the willingness of local officials to substitute prices for local taxes.

The province requires that the County submit a Financial Information Report (FIR) to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing annually. The County’s annual FIR includes statements of expenses and user fees & service charges associated with nine functional categories of service that are defined by the province. The County’s annual Consolidated Financial Statements also include a “Schedule of Segment Disclosure” for the same functional categories. Finally, for the past three years, the County’s annual Audit Findings Reports, prepared by an independent auditor, have identified two single-tier municipal comparators: Norfolk County and West Nipissing Municipality.

Invitation 6 referred candidates to two sets of financial statements (described below):

Against this background, candidates were asked to rate their satisfaction with the user fees & service charges associated with the nine functional categories (segments) of service in the County.

Table 1 presents the numbers and percentages of candidates’ ratings:

Table 1. Candidates’ satisfaction with user fees & service charges associated with categories of service in the County (N=12).
Service category Very dissatisfied Dissatisfied Neither dissatisfied or satisfied Satisfied Very satisfied
General government 2 2 3 5 0
16.7% 16.7% 25.0% 41.7% 0.0%
Protection services 0 2 3 6 1
0.0% 16.7% 25.0% 50.0% 8.3%
Transportation services 0 6 4 2 0
0.0% 50.0% 33.3% 16.7% 0.0%
Environmental services 1 3 6 2 0
8.3% 25.0% 50.0% 16.7% 0.0%
Health services 1 2 4 4 1
8.3% 16.7% 33.3% 33.3% 8.3%
Social and family services 0 2 6 4 0
0.0% 16.7% 50.0% 33.3% 0.0%
Social housing 0 4 5 3 0
0.0% 33.3% 41.7% 25.0% 0.0%
Recreation and cultural services 0 5 4 3 0
0.0% 41.7% 33.3% 25.0% 0.0%
Planning and development services 3 3 2 4 0
25.0% 25.0% 16.7% 33.3% 0.0%

Table 2 categorizes candidates’ ratings as Dissatisfied, Neither, and Satisfied with user fees & service charges:

Table 1. Candidates’ satisfaction with user fees & service charges associated with categories of service in the County (N=12).
Service category Dissatisfied Neither Satisfied
General government 4 3 5
33.3% 25.0% 41.7%
Protection services 2 3 7
16.7% 25.0% 58.3%
Transportation services 6 4 2
50.0% 33.3% 16.7%
Environmental services 4 6 2
33.3% 50.0% 16.7%
Health services 3 4 5
25.0% 33.3% 41.7%
Social and family services 2 6 4
16.7% 50.0% 33.3%
Social housing 4 5 3
33.3% 41.7% 25.0%
Recreation and cultural services 05 4 3
41.7% 33.3% 25.0%
Planning and development services 6 2 4
50.0% 16.7% 33.3%

Explanation of ratings

Candidates were asked to explain their ratings of satisfaction with the user fees & service charges associated with two of these service categories in the County. A total of 19 explanations were provided by 10 candidates.

Table 3 presents number and percentage of candidates who explained their ratings for a given service category.

Table 3. Candidates’ explanations of ratings of satisfaction with user fees and service charges associated with service categories in the County (N=19).
Service category N %
General government 4 21.1%
Protection services 1 5.3%
Transporation services 3 15.8%
Environmental services 4 21.1%
Health services 1 5.3%
Social and family services 1 5.3%
Social housing 0 0.0%
Recreation and cultural services 0 0.0%
Planning and development services 5 26.3%

Candidates were strongly inclined to explain their dissatisfaction (15 or 78.9% of explanations) with specific user fees or service charges. None of the candidates’ explained their satisfaction with specific user fees or service charges.

 

As usual, everyone is encouraged to read the candidates’ unredacted responses to Invitation 6.

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© Paul G. Allen