Story created by
Tim FitzGerald
Right off the bat, incumbent Mayor Kristal Chopp communicated a firm grasp of the facts that govern Norfolk County's finances and thus the taxes that you pay. Kristal explained that the Mayor has only one vote on Council. The Mayor (and Council) hire the CAO (Chief Administrative Officer). Its the CAO who makes operational decisions and runs the County through the senior management team.
Each year,  municipalities tax and contribute to "Reserve Funds" to "fund" ongoing and significant future upgrades and renewal expenditures. However, the Mayor showed us a graph of the County's Reserves (its in her campaign brochure). Since 2010, until Major Kristal Chopp arrived, the County's Reserves declined and went negative. How did it get this way?? Well, sometimes the use of "creative funding", whereby otherwise current expenditures get charged to reserves would keeps the year's tax levy low. Exclusion of major water supply upgrades would also keep the need for reserve funds low. Did the senior management know? Did the previous councils know or hint that it should be done this way? Its now in the past! The buck stops here! The binding solution passed by Mayor Chopp with the current council is a "15% Reserve Fund limit" - if the CAO/Council want to exceed 15% it must be debated and passed in open/public council meetings. 
My take (as the writer), the County has to get good before it can get better!
To deliver all the services that Ontario has downloaded and infrastructure that the community wants - takes funding.  The right senior management team is now in place and the consistent message from the top is "transparency" in all financial dealings.
What is stopping development now? The lack of source water and failing treatment facilities; simultaneously - aged waste water treatment facilities. Can't we just drop a pipe into Lake Erie? International Treaties and permitting would like put costs above $1 billion. Whereas H-N (aka Townsend) has a permitted intake already which can supplement Norfolk closer to its current shortages. It takes easily a decade to permit, secure government grants and build new source water and treatment facilities.  Norfolk needs to be engaged in this process now and along the way - versus being fined by the Province for ignoring warnings.
As Norfolk's financial "house" gets in order, reserves are being rebuilt and transparency is enshrined - funding for social services, community infrastructure and road resurfacing will come back as a better normal.