Comment 60444

By adrian (registered) | Posted March 01, 2011 at 08:44:45 in reply to Comment 60393

Daniel, I appreciate your well-reasoned reply (incidentally, you can quote people by placing a greater-than sign in front of each line of text you wish to quote - for more information, click the link at the bottom of each page that says "Guide to Comment Formatting").

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).

Yes and no. Yes, in the sense that I would like to build a levy base towards increased service; no, in the sense that I generally disagree with area rating as a whole (although, if a rural/urban split still qualifies as area rating, then I can see its merits in that instance, as rural communities are very different from urban ones, and that can't be ignored.)

My primary preference is to increase levels of service and change the system of taxation to support those increases in service in an equitable manner, without reducing anyone's taxes (I don't think that we ought to reduce the levy in the lower city, though I do understand that this is what is being recommended, because it's a recipe for political disaster and doesn't actually improve services). I think that the public good argument makes good sense and that there's no real reason to treat the way we fund public transit any differently than the way we fund road-building, for example.

My secondary preference is for urban and suburban residents to fund public goods, particularly transit, equally, regardless of the level of service in any particular area. Ultimately, if we want to be a society where people pay for what they use, then it would be fairest to have no levy for public transit at all, and pay for it solely through fares. Of course, the same principle would have to apply to roads, libraries, water treatment, conservation areas, health care, etc., and that's simply untenable.

Suburban residents may well look at this as a tax increase, and I see where they are coming from. However, the other way of looking at it is from the perspective of urban residents, who have been shouldering an unfair proportion of the burden for all of these years.

Suburban residents are fond of pointing out that their homes have higher property values and thus they pay more in taxes, as well, they use transit less on average; I'd point out that these higher property values are a function of demand and not an arbitrary assignment by the city, that in my neighbourhood (Kirkendall) there are plenty of homes that are assessed in the $350,000 to $500,000 range, and that many urban residents don't use public transit either (I don't - I walk to work).

That said, we need to move forward...and fast. This divisiveness is hurting Hamilton's ability to grow.

Agreed. Regardless of whether or not the citizens' forums recommendations are accepted, I think that this presents an important opportunity to reopen the discussion and I am optimistic that reasonable Hamiltonians - like you and I - will be able to come to a creative resolution.

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