Thursday, November 22, 2007

Funding Toronto

CBL Contributor Reid and Raphael from Unambig (et moi) have been having a chat that I think warrants it's own post relative to the City of Toronto wanting to tax bottled water....

Reid said...
What bothered me most was this:
The proposal for a 5-cent tax on water bottled in Ontario and 10 cents on water bottled outside the province was ruled out of order at the time.
Can you say "Interprovincial trade barrier?" Or how about "violation of NAFTA?"

Lemon said...
Bro, they're buffoons and bumpkins.
They have (now) $8 Billion to play with.It's like giving a teenage boy whiskey and the car keys.
None of them - repeat none of David Miller's caucus of 19 councillors - have between them a single credential that would suggest they should manage anything more than a household budget and even then, only a modest household budget (and certainly not mine...)

Raphael Alexander said...
I do believe the solution to the cities lies in some form of higher government transfer. Perhaps income from residency receipts to accommodate the influx of new Canadians.

Reid said...
Here's the problem I have with your suggestion. Why should someone living in Spuzzum, BC have their tax dollars go to Toronto for their infrastructure? Toronto's infrastructure is Toronto's responsibility. Vancouver's infrastructure is Vancouver's responsibility.
A better sollution, in my opinion, would be for the Federal Government to LOWER taxes and leave it up to the municipalities or Provinces to raise taxes accordingly to pay for those items which fall under their jurisdiction.
If the Feds take in the taxes and then pass them over to the Provinces and Municipalities there's a cost in that. Every level of government that handles the money before it gets to the end user means there's less money for the end user. Let the end user collect that money directly. It will be more efficient. And then the voters of that jurisdiction can determine whether or not they're getting value for their money.
As it stands if it's the Feds who end up paying for everything then the Municipalities and Provinces don't have to answer the question of how they are spending their money and why they aren't taking care of their infrastructure.

Lemon Responds:
Cities are solely within the authority of provinces and have very limited legislative authority. Feds can transfer cash to the Provinces (and commonly do) and Provinces can transfer funds to Cities (and commonly do). It is unusual for the Feds to transfer funds to cities directly.
Cities largely function as "ministries" of the provincial governments and are delegated the responsibility to deliver selected basic services (water, sewer, waste, roads, transit, public safety) and usually have limited ability to raise funds other than user fees and taxes on property value.
No one claims that this basic equation works, because not all all cities are created equal. Fredericton is not Toronto is not Calgary is not Corner Brook. Yet any action by the Federal Government is expected to treat all Provinces equally (except for equalization payments...) just as any action by a Province needs to keep all cities and towns happy.
Good luck on figuring out how to solve this.
The stench of raising taxes is, however, avoided by all governments equally. So, the Feds reduce GST giving any province who dares the room to raise Sales Tax. Then (at least in Ontario) the Province gives the City of Toronto the ability to raise other taxes.
And because no politician in their right mind (or left mind for that matter) wants to raise taxes, the problem continues.
Ultimately I see the following action needed for Toronto (likely by a Province appointed Trustee):
-- The City of Toronto refuses to cover any costs of resettlement of immigrants or refugees.
-- The COT begins the process of charging visitor fees - both for tourists and for suburbanites - these likely will come in the form of tolls. These tolls will be electronically collected at every main entrance point to the city, supplemented by "no turn" signs. Transit fares will not be taxed and residents will be exempt. (this will pressure the Province to take action).
-- The COT becomes the main proponent of uploading the TTC to GO Transit / GTTA.
-- The COT refuses to increase expenditure on social programs.
-- The COT requests the right to legislate a $5 hotel tax (now there's a voluntary tax that's used for Tourism promo) and a 1% sales tax on all purchases.

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