Monday, December 19, 2005

Did the City of London commission this stupid poll or was it the London Free Press?

From the People's Left Arm:

Londoners rather city council spend money to attract jobs than to fix roads, hire cops and firefighters or improve recreation, a new poll suggests.

Asked to rank those four choices 38 per cent of Londoner [sic] picked job attraction as their top priority.

That easily surpassed the next two choices, fixing roads and hiring more police and firefighters, which finished in a near statistical dead heat.

New hires was the top choice for 25 per cent of respondents while 24 per cent picked roads — the difference well within the poll's margin of error of 5.8 per cent.
3000 Londoners responded to this survey, outnumbering those whose testimony formed the basis of the recent OMB decision on London's current ward system by 2985.

The fact that only one percent of respondents ranked the nebulous concept of creating jobs as the top priority of city council, with a error margin of 5.8 percent, is nonetheless an occasion of self-congratulation for Controller of Arenas, Parks, Libraries and Creative Cities Gord Hume:
Finishing a distant fourth were parks and recreation facilities, picked as a top choice by only seven per cent. That’s the same number who either said they didn’t know or volunteered their own answer.

The results didn’t surprise council members.

“It shows again that Londoners are smart and have their priorities right . . . This is pretty much how the budget (is coming) down this year,” controller Gord Hume said.
Do I smell an upcoming municipal election in 2006? What this poll shows, if anything, is that Council and City Staff are stupid and have no notion of responsibility or properly aligned priorities. What's going down in this city is that the very priority voted as last in this totally meaningless poll has been the very first priority of city council for years. Spending on recreation and entertainment is one the biggest reasons Londoners are overtaxed and under-serviced. A one percent difference is 'significant' because council doesn't want to spend money on the roads, because they've already spent and borrowed tons of money on capital improvements which must now be paid for. Fixing the potholes is not near so glorious as boasting the JLC.

The reality is that people don't want to come here because the roads are crumbling and covered in snow, the sewers and water pipes are bursting, the guns firing and property taxes and debt proportionally higher than other municipalities. The best way to attract newcomers, other than those seeking public housing in London, is to bite that hand that steals.

"There's no sense having good roads if you have nowhere to go."
Coun. Fred Tranquilli


Kateland, aka TZH said...

Lisa, I'm curious, and would like you to speculate how long before London city counsel will hold out before deciding that it needs the same powers of taxation that have been recently given to Toronto e.g, the right to levy direct consumption taxes on entertainment, cigarettes, alcohol etc?

Pietr said...

Sorry to hear that, Kate.I always liked going to Toronto for my hols, but now it is turning into a fascist republic.

MapMaster said...

The London Free Press, Jan. 27, 2005:

Council also asked staff to report on possible alternative forms of taxation, such as income and sales taxes, that municipalities currently aren't allowed to collect.

Controller Gord Hume, who moved the motion, explained the city's increased responsibility for social programs demands a new tax system.

The annual increase in property tax rates gives council such bad press that other forms of taxation must seem very appealing, especially now that the precedent has been set in Toronto. London won't likely agitate on its own, but I expect that the bug will be put in the ear of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, the municipalities' lobbying group, within the next couple of years. They are already demanding solutions to the "fiscal gap" between the province and the cities, and if one solution is proposed for Toronto's "gap," they would not be incorrect to assume that this is how the McGuinty government will handle the problem.

Which is too bad. The kind of tax regime that Toronto is getting will not do anything to increase accountability or fiscal prudence. I have argued in the past for the adoption of municipal sales taxes to introduce competitive fiscal management, but only a comprehensive single rate on all goods to replace property taxes, much as the Freedom Party proposes. However, the McGuinty Toronto strategy is a subterfuge — if cities are given the kind of powers that Toronto has been given, they will cleverly tax only those items to which residents and visitors are captive, like sin taxes and hotel taxes.