Somerset Drive condo owner outlines their lower level of County services at same tax rate

letter-to-editorI’d like to build on Richard O’Mara’s letter in the Feb. 12 edition, in which he noted that the word “condominium” denotes the type of ownership of a property, not the type of property.
Thus high-rise towers, multi-level townhouses, bungalow townhouses, even single-family detached homes can all be condos. But many people mistakenly equate the word “condo” with high-rise towers exclusively, and I write now to point out how this common error is working to the detriment of the condo complex in which I live.
Our complex at 19 Somerset Drive consists of 24 bungalow townhouses, that’s 24 ground-level family units with 24 front doors. You can’t get much farther from a high rise than that.
Nonetheless Norfolk County treats us the same as a high rise condo by limiting the number of garbage bags they will pick up to eight per week for the whole complex!
That might make sense for a high-rise building with garbage chutes that feed into a central bin, but it makes no sense at all for our physical layout. I ask readers of this letter to imagine living with a limit of one-third of a bag of garbage per week. We reduce and recycle vigourously, but there are limits.
Keep in mind that each of our 24 units houses a single family, and therefore creates as much garbage as a single-family freehold home, from which Norfolk County will pick up four bags per week. One-third of a bag per week versus four, that’s a factor of twelve in spite of the fact that the only difference is the form of ownership, condominium versus freehold. That’s a very illogical stance by the County, especially given that the two kinds of owner pay the same tax rate.
And there’s a further issue! A low-rise condo complex like ours is a privately-owned miniature town.
As a result, many services provided to freehold owners by the County are NOT provided to us, in spite of the fact that we pay the same tax rate. We have our own road, so we plow, salt, sweep and patch it, not the County. We have our own lamp-posts, so we pay to change the bulbs, not the County. We have our own fire hydrants, so we pay to test them and paint them, not the County. The unit owners lug their garbage to the perimeter of our complex because the County won’t pick up garbage in front of each unit.
We chose to live in a condo complex, fair enough, but shouldn’t our tax rate be lower to compensate for the lower level of service?
My wife and I retired to Port Dover over eight years ago and we absolutely love the area and its friendly people. But we don’t feel we’re getting a fair shake from the County.
Some years ago our complex made a presentation to Council asking for relief on the bag limit, but we were turned down without a word of explanation.
Even though we struck out once I’m hoping that this time around a constructive, logical response to both of my points (the low garbage bag limit and the unduly high tax rate) will be forthcoming. We live in hope!
Terry Seawright
Port Dover

Posted: February 20, 2014

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