Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Mayors look for tax grab, cite global warming

Global warming has really hit the big time when it becomes a routine gimmick for every massive handout and redistribution scheme. In a March 5 press release called "Fight Global Warming With Public Transit, Say Big City Mayors," the Big City Mayors' Caucus of the Canadian Federation of Municipalities urge the federal government to cough up $2 billion a year for municipal public transit systems as part of a "National Transit Strategy" (PDF).

“Paying for public transit is a major issue for all municipalities and property tax alone is not sufficient to support this important service,” says London Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco-Best. “Clearly, municipal governments need help …”
Just as clearly, the Big City Mayors have neither the slightest concern for folks living outside Big Cities who will be expected in part to subsidize the scheme, nor the slightest desire to bear the political burden of raising taxes themselves to finance their pretensions to run grand projects in their own name. The only limit to "property tax alone" is the political culpability for tax collection — otherwise, DeCicco-Best's administration hasn't had any qualms about it at all. Only 57% of London Transit's $46.615 million in 2006 revenues were recovered from its own operations, while London taxpayers subsidized over 38% of its costs, or $17.839 million (Boards & Commissions PDF). An additional $1.339 million were received in subsidies by the province already, while the Transit Commission dug $799,000 from its reserves. So why stop now?

The press release would more honestly have been named "Fight Municipal Tax Increases With Federal Tax Increases." Out of the blue, a London Free Press editorial occasionally has me looking twice because it actually makes good sense… and then it turns out to be an editorial imported from one of its Sun Media associates instead of a home-grown effort. Today's editorial, by Geoff Matthews of the Ottawa Sun, is one such example:
[T]he federal government really only has a single source of the money it uses to pay its bills and that is you and me and the store owner on the corner and the companies turning out everything from widgets to windows.

In short it's Canadian taxpayers and we're sick and tired of having our pockets raided every time someone has an idea for a new project or program.

The municipal leaders gathered yesterday in Montreal to talk about their transit needs must realize that the people who live and work in their towns and cities are the same people filling up the federal coffers.

1 Comment:

Jake said...

The LTC should be a private-public transit system like they have in York Region with their Viva System. Unlike London, they have a well-used and profitable transit system there.

With Viva, the maintenance and staff expenditures of the system are managed by a private firm while the buses are purchased by the municipality. The city still retains control over the fares.

Unlike London, the buses used in York Region have comfortable seats and allow commuters to do work or study while riding. Also, the buses have frequent service, travel faster, and are pretty cheap to ride.

Unfortunately, this idea would never be adapted in London since our politicians could never fathom of allowing a private firm to run just a portion of a government service.