Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Due and Owing

Gasp! I am surprised, awed and shocked that the proposed mill rate hike starts at a mere 4.65% (SP Dec. 8/10.) Thank you to Premier Wall for the additional $9 million in revenue sharing. Thank you Prime Minister Harper for extending the deadline on the federal infrastructure program. You both helped save our bacon, at least for now.

While I like the new budget document, what concerns me is the short-sightedness on priorities within the budget. From the news report less money that is needed for bridge maintenance is allocated to that line. Given the recent issues around the Traffic Bridge, and past reports indicating that the University and Broadway bridges are nearing the end of their lifespans, I would have thought that budget item would be given major attention. Also on the fringe for funding is lane repair, accessibility ramps and cycling infrastructure, all of which are concerns raised by the public and council throughout the year. Recycling seems not to be included but I expect we will see that charge on some utility bill.

Speaking of which, aside from tax increases, the utilities are going up and up. The report is silent on any new levies or increase to existing levies.

The big winner in this budget is transit. More money for a losing proposition. I get the impression that the message on transit has not been heard. It is not about fare cost. Its about service.

The best of all is increasing fees to campsites, golf courses, the Forestry Farm, sports field rentals and, my favorite, the cemetery. I thought taxes would end with death. However, the city will get the last nickel before they plant you. Actually, I don't really have a problem with most of this with the exception of the sports fields. It will simply increase costs to children's sports activities and put average families further behind. Or worse yet, put more kids in front of a TV.

I'll leave it to others to deal with affordable housing being pushed to the civic level and what increasing taxes does to rents, the poor and young families hoping to buy a home. This part really just depresses me.

I have to go and return some of those Christmas gifts I purchased earlier. I'll need the cash to plump up my accounts for taxes, utilities and user fees.


  1. A quick comment on one aspect of justification for this increase. How can growth be costing the existing taxpayer an increase. I was under the impression from our mayor that growth pays for itself. To blame this tax increase on needing more infrastructure in new areas is assassin. This is purely a money grab to pay for the outrageous spending on things such as River Landing - tax breaks - social programs and increased wages. Now is the time that Council demand efficiencies in all departments

  2. I agree Grizz, the mayor has long held out that growth will pay for itself. How can we now be told that we need to pay for the growth.

    I'm sure once this budget is gone through we will see the ridiculousness of it. This Council has to go. There isn't one incumbent that I would welcome back next term. Clean them out and start from scratch. What an abject failure.

  3. I had started to respond to The Grizz's comment, but it quickly grew in size.

    So I have posted it on my blog instead:

  4. Re. transit: "It is not about fare cost. Its about service."

    Thank you. That is exactly the point that our coucillors are too slow to get.

  5. If the city hadn't missed its recycling deadline (weren't there supposed to be October public meetings?) there would have been a budget item for extra spending there as well. There are people who don't like this tax increase but are advocating spending (only) an additional $11 per month for mandatory door to door recycling.

    On the $200,000 home which the media has been using as an example, add the proposed tax increase ($6 per month) with the additional bump in recycling fees and you get a tax increase in the range of $200 per year or somewhere between 10% and 15%.

    Put in that context, 4.65% almost looks good.


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