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Former mayor of Winnipeg Beach says tax hike backlash affecting his reputation

The former mayor of Winnipeg Beach says his reputation is taking a hit following a big tax hike from the current council.

“I don’t like to think that people think that I was doing something wrong,” said Tony Pimentel.

Last weekend, 300 people attended a public meeting to hear an explanation from the current mayor, Pam Jackson, about why property taxes are going up by hundreds of dollars for cottage and homeowners.

Jackson said a mill rate jump from 17 to 21 is needed to replenish reserves, drained by previous councils, for operating expenses, and to balance the books

“We needed to explain to people why we needed to raise the tax rate,” said Jackson.

But Pimentel, who was the mayor of 12 years, said that set off a firestorm against him. He said he doesn’t want the community to blame him for the tax hike.

“My neighbours now have to defend me,” said Pimentel. “They see my family and they say, ‘Oh you’re the daughter of the mayor.”

Pimentel said under his watch the town was reporting minor surpluses annually, without massive tax increases. In his opinion, the current budget from the current council contains an accounting error, and he believes there is more than $900,000 in new spending which can account for the tax hike in the budget.

“You can go through it and you can see, that’s the question taxpayers should be asking,” he said.

However, Mayor Jackson said there is no new spending. She said her administration is just trying to get the books in order.

“We were really looking at what we needed to do to pull in our purse strings,” said Jackson.

While the two mayors disagree on the numbers, they seem to agree on one thing – there is a lot of misinformation being passed around, especially online.

“Tony’s a good man and in no way are we suggesting that there has been money missing or illegal things happening,” said Jackson.

“There’s been a lot of information that projects really badly on me,” said Pimentel.

Pimentel said because of some of that misinformation in the community, he has contacted a lawyer. 

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