Friday, September 16, 2005

Making reservations for the bread line

It's that special time of year again in London, with the leaves beginning to turn and the apples and grapes ripening on the trees and vines in the golden autumn haze, and, of course:

The annual battle for more bucks from London taxpayers is underway […]

[The London Transit Commission] says it needs an increase of 6.1 per cent and fare hikes of 6.9 per cent to meet skyrocketing fuel prices. Meanwhile, police are looking for an increase of at least 3.4 per cent, a figure that could double once a new contract is negotiated with officers.

[…] Staff are projecting taxpayers will see a tax hike of less than four per cent next year — good news for city politicians who face an election next November […] That means taxpayers will get some relief from recent large hikes, including a 5.3-per-cent jump this year and 5.9-per-cent hike in 2004.

[The London Free Press]
A smaller increase in an election year? Well, isn't that convenient. The Free Press staff indulges in a little humour referring to a tax hike coming on the heels of other tax hikes as "relief." It will likely have to do because no suggestion that tax hikes are unnecessary in the first place will be forthcoming from anywhere except here:
Londoners should be asking themselves if they are pleased at the prospect of yet another substantial increase in property taxes. Or, would they be pleased at the prospect of paying the same property taxes that they currently pay. I imagine most of us would breathe a sigh of relief at this time if the increase was only, say, 3 per cent … and turn to the entertainment pages. If, however, property taxes are used to fund expenses that have nothing at all to do with the service of property, would it not be reasonable for us to say "Stop!" and demand some of our money back?
Consider, at a minimum, that the city's revenue comes from taxes collected on property, from property owners — a reasonable use of that revenue, without examining the premises of property taxation in the first place, would be restricted to services such as police, fire, road and sewer maintenance. In the event these more judicious limits were respected, London property owners would see substantial tax reductions instead of hikes, even respecting debt repayment obligations. Just a suggestion… non-property-taxpaying interests will never go for it. But it would spare us from stories in the Free Press like this:
Communities in Bloom picked the gateway at Airport Road and Oxford Street as the winner of its gateways category […]

"For $270,000, it should have won an award," said Controller Bud Polhill.


Little Tobacco said...

When oil goes back down to $30 per barrel is the transit company going to reduce fares?

MapMaster said...

We all know the answer to that question — but if we're lucky the extra "profit" from lower oil prices will reduce dependence on tax-funded subsidies. If we're not, they'll find other ways to waste the extra revenue. From experience, I'd have to lean the other way if called on to make a prediction.