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Councillors Jackson, Gilbert debate two cent tax increase

Councillor Maryanne Jackson talks to a group giving a presentation to county council on May 15, while the other councillors read documents handed out by the group. Following the presentation, Jackson and councillor Ernie Gilbert, left, debated the need for an 2 cent tax increase in the 2019-2020 budget.
Councillor Maryanne Jackson talks to a group giving a presentation to county council on May 15, while the other councillors read documents handed out by the group. Following the presentation, Jackson and councillor Ernie Gilbert, left, debated the need for an 2 cent tax increase in the 2019-2020 budget. - Dave Mathieson

UPPER NAPPAN, N.S. – A heated debate ensued between Cumberland County councillors Maryanne Jackson and Ernie Gilbert before council voted to pass the 2019-2020 budget.

Gilbert said he doesn’t support the two cent tax increase on county residents, and suggested it would be nice if he could vote to pass the budget while not supporting the tax increase.

Rennie Bugley, county CAO, said if Gilbert’s not supporting the two cent increase then he can’t support the budget and all programs and services that come along with it.

That’s when Jackson jumped in, saying they had lengthy discussions at council meetings about how to balance the budget without increasing taxes.

“We had certain member of council who would not go for the tax rate increase but, also, would not go for the things we proposed to cut,” Jackson said. “If you’re over budget you have to cut somewhere, if you don’t cut somewhere you have to raise taxes. It’s very simple math.”

Turning to Gilbert, Jackson added, “When you say you don’t want to raise taxes but you don’t want to cut anything, that’s a pretty stinking way out if you ask me.”

Gilbert said he did point to cuts that could be made during those council meetings.

“I supported Paul (councillor Porter) in one of his suggestions to make cuts on our individual portions we have for our areas,” said Gilbert.

Jackson responded by saying that, in the future, she will keep track Gilberts proposed cuts.

“I’m going to be supportive on Facebook too when your residents comment on my Facebook page and say, ‘Ernie is the best councillor because he didn’t vote for the budget and he didn’t vote for taxes,’” said Jackson. “I will be noting in detail what you were planning to cut and what you won’t.”

When it came time to vote on a motion to pass the budget, Gilbert voted to pass the budget as is.

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