Comment 60393

By DanielRodrigues (registered) - website | Posted February 28, 2011 at 14:23:06 in reply to Comment 60370

To Adrian: (I'm not sure how to capture quotes from other comments like you did), but if I'm reading your response to my comment correctly, you'd like to see area rating used for building a levy base towards increased service (in this case, transit). Have I got that right?

If I am to understand that is indeed what you are implying, then it's not simply a matter of Council making that decision. By law, the City cannot raise additional revenue over and above the operating cost of the City through the tax levies. That said, the City can impose a tax surcharge over and above what is required to operate the City, only if the whole City contributes to the surcharge. And, only if those monies went towards the specific surcharged project. The City of Mississauga did this in 2008, when it voted to add an additional 5% to all residential tax bills for infrastructure needs.

What is missing out of the Citizen Forum recommendations is the cost implications of their recommendations. Earlier numbers released showed folks in Ancaster and Flamborough seeing increases of 11 to 14% in portions of their property taxes, while the former City of Hamilton residents would see up to a 5% reduction in a portion of their property taxes. All these changes would occur with no changes in the levels of service...for either community.

I'm an East Mountain resident who would love to see the current area rating service changed. However, it needs to be done so in a fair and equitable manner. If the impact of the transit levy results in a 5% reduction in the transit portion of my tax bill, then perhaps the City should look at neutralizing that reduction with a levy on say streetlighting (as an example). If that same impact results in a 11% increase in a portion of my property taxes, then perhaps the City should look at neutralizing that increase with a reduction of a service levy that I don't have...such as streetlighting, parks, libraries, etc. (as an example if I lived in Stoney Creek or one of the other communities).

I did not intend to infer that the article was misleading as a whole, however to state that the Citizen Forum may have crafted a "wise and fair solution" is subjective. Yes, there is (and has been) a great deal of bickering over the current system...and the fact that we are now over 10-years removed from its inception makes it that much more difficult to reach a concensus. The recommendation on the table still needs some work to get it to that "wise and fair solution" (IMHO).

As a matter of useless information: of all the communities who amalgamated prior to 2001 (including Ottawa, Toronto, Sudbury, London, Chatham, Hamilton, and others)...we were the only community to area rate by former boundaries. Other than take-aways from our current area rating formula (Flamborough Downs being the biggest), our Council has not altered or added any other service to the area rating formula. And, just because I've been known to bring a gun to a knife fight: Studies have shown that amalgamations in Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia failed to produce the expected cost savings. This includes the Toronto mega-City creation. That said, we need to move forward...and fast. This divisiveness is hurting Hamilton's ability to grow.

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