Posts Tagged ‘tax’

Dion and Suzuki Have it Right

May 19, 2008

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It doesn’t come as any great surprise to me that “famed environmentalist David Suzuki has strongly backed Liberal leader Stephane Dion’s emerging carbon tax plan.” 01


Lobbying for London’s Pedestrians

May 5, 2008

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Trying to keep you informed about what’s going on.

Look for the follow-up post.


Catching Up on Carbon Tax

March 30, 2008

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There’s never enough time, is there? I’m trying to play catch-up on the ‘carbon tax’ issue. Here’s what I’ve got so far…


Doesn’t It Make You Warm All Over?

March 19, 2008

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It’s so nice to know that so many of London’s City Hall administrators are raking in $100,000 or more.


A Dime A Day?

March 12, 2008

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A UWO Gazette sketch (reposted with permission).

It’ll take more than 70¢/week to accumulate the $5000 that’s eligible for the feds RESP savings plan, but maybe the sharp pencils used by cartoonists are different than the ones used by accountants. In any case, what bothers me most about about the seeming largesse of this political gesture is the fact that it’s limited to education savings. Click on the ‘toon to read the editorial.

Kellogg’s Special $KKKs

March 8, 2008

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Help me to understand this. Is Kellogg on the brink of bankruptcy?


Got Your ‘Thank You’ Note Yet?

March 2, 2008

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In case you missed the news, you just gave your MP a fairly decent 3.1% pay hike. 01


Toll Roads: Part of a Smart Anti-Congestion Plan

February 25, 2008

You may recall that I’ve previously suggested that toll roads (congestion fees) would be a good thing for London. 01 Now Toronto’s Mayor has joined the choir; David Miller thinks that tolls would be good for his city too. 02

It isn’t a new idea. In 1700s Britain “turnpike roads…were private businesses that maintained roads using the income obtained from charging for its use…” Over the past +100 years most new roads have been built “using funding from income tax and other government taxes.” But increasingly, old is becoming new again, as cities struggle to cope with serious congestion problems. “Toll roads like the M6 Toll are funded in a different and much fairer way. The cost of building and maintaining them is borne by the developer who recovers his outlay and interest charges by levying tolls on the traffic which uses the road – in exactly the same way as turnpike roads were operated 400 years ago. Thus toll roads are paid for only by the people who use them.” 03

01. 2008/01/09 – FMBS: Ted Kheel’s fight…
02. 2008/02/23 – Toronto Star: Mayor backs serious look at road tolls
03. M6toll

Other Links:
Toronto 407 ETR
Indiana Toll Road
Harris County (Greater Houston) Toll Road Authority
Cobequid Pass (Nova Scotia) Toll Road
(Orange County CA) Transportation Corridor Agencies
(Denver) e-470
2008/02/29 – Toronto Star: Strong premier would steer toward road tolls
2008/04 – Toronto Life: Toronto’s Traffic Time Bomb

London’s 2008 Police Budget Debate

February 21, 2008

I said it when I went before London’s CAPS Committee in 2002. I’ve said it many times since then. And now I’ll say it again…
London does not have enough police officers!

Police strength in Canada is well below that in many other industrialized nations. For example, police strength ranges from 222-270 officers per 100,000 population in the United States, Australia, and England and Wales. Police strength in Canada peaked at 206 officers for every 100,000 population in 1975. And of the 25 largest communities Census Metropolitan Areas (by population) in Canada, London’s police strength ranks way down (tied in 14th place with 7 others). 01

Appended 2008/02/24: Based on StatsCan cities-only data that I’ve now found, London’s police strength is actually in the middle of the pack from that more specific perspective. However, as I previously suggested, simply focusing on that stat is misleading (read on).

But that kind of comparison doesn’t tell the whole story, does it? My common sense tell me that the communities that need the most police, are those that have the most males aged 15-24 (approx).

Based on my crunching of the CMA numbers that I got from the StatsCan website, of those same 25 communities, London ranks 7th in terms of the number of males aged 15-24 per capita. And then I crunched the CMA numbers again, and I determined that London only ranks 20th out of 25 when you compare the # of police that we have with the number of males aged 15-24 that we have. 02

Appended 2008/02/24: Based on my crunching of the cities-only numbers that I got from the StatsCan website, London ranks 6th in terms of the number of males aged 15-24 per capita. And then I crunched the cities-only numbers again, and I determined that London ranks 14th when you compare the # of police that we have with the number of males aged 15-24 that we have. 03 Admittedly, not as bad a picture as was painted by the CMA data, but not a good picture by any stretch of the imagination either (if my premise is correct).

sshhhHowever, I do agree with those members of Council who are complaining about the lack of transparency. I think that all of the city’s Boards and Commissions that I’ve had any dealings with are too secretive. Like HERE, and HERE, and HERE, and HERE, and HERE, and HERE, and…

Appended 2008/02/21: Coun. Nancy Branscombe is reportedly complaing that Council members weren’t given a copy of the police budget, and Police Chief Murray Faulkner is reported to have said that “all 62 pages…” of the police budget was provided “…to city administrators”03 The drama unfolds…

Appended 2008/02/22: Can this get any more interesting? Jeff Fielding and Vic Cote are reportedly denying that the city administration ever received a line-by-line budget from the police. 04 So, all that’s clear at this point is that someone isn’t telling the truth.

01. 2007/11/16 – The Daily: Police personnel and expenditures
02. 2008/02/20 – FMBS: CMA spreadsheet data
03. 2008/02/20 – FMBS: cities-only spreadsheet data
04. 2008/02/21 – LFP: Secrecy claims raise ire of chief
05. 2008/02/22 – LFP: 4.4 percent

Other Links:
2008/02/04 – FMBS: Jonathan Sher’s Police Budget Half-Truth

Jonathan Sher’s Police Budget Half-Truth

February 4, 2008

Today’s newspaper article (‘Police budget under fire‘; London Free Press; 2008/02/04) appears to be another vainglorious attempt to stir up local ratepayers and drive a wedge between police and local government.

Different Truths 
Don’t be too quick to accept what’s presented to you. Yes, it’s true that the police budget is taking up a larger proportion of the total city budget. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the increased police budget is irresponsible or even unreasonable. It’s every bit as possible that it simply reflects the fact that the rest of the city budget may not be increasing as it should be. You may not want to hear that, but it doesn’t mean that it isn’t true.

What may not be sustainable, is local government’s ability to shoulder the cost so long as it is dependent upon the outdated property tax system. But Mr. Sher makes no effort to remind us of that fact.

Mr. Sher quotes Police Chief Faulkner as saying that “Policing is very expensive.” Well, I’d like to remind Mr. Sher and London City Council that not policing is even more expensive. The cost which would result from increased violence and property crimes would make current expenditures pale in comparison.

It’s been 6 years since I appeared before City Council’s Community & Protective Services Committee to argue for increased police funding (when nobody else was), but my position has not changed since then. Read the transcript HERE.

The real focus needs to continue to be on funding of municipalities. I addressed the audience during Jay Stanford’s recent Waste Diversion Open House at Laurier S.S. when their understandable upset over rising property tax increases inappropriately manifested itself in a criticism of the perceived cost of environmental initiatives. Here is my recollection of what I said…

In the beginning, before money even existed, the way that people measured their wealth was in land, and the ability of that land to produce crops and sustain livestock. We were an overwhelmingly rural society. Then, as now, there was a need to collect from citizens a share of those costs which were incurred for the whole community. Those taxes were in the form of potatoes, corn, goats, etc. Over the years, property tax has fulfilled it’s purpose for local communities pretty well. But we have made a transition from a rural society to a predominantly urban one. And that trend continues. The property tax system is now broken. It can no longer support all of the costs which city dwellers place upon it. There needs to be a new revenue source for cities. Federal and provincial governments do not suffer the same problem. They have multiple ways in which to raise revenue. The federal government has been awash in our taxdollars for quite some time. Year after year it declares surplus budgets. The fiscal health of the provinces is not so clear-cut, because of the convoluted transfer payments between each, division of responsibilities, etc. But one unmistakable fact remains – provinces has the ability to raise more revenue whenever they need to. Recently, the City of Toronto was given some special new powers as a result of it’s continued budget deficits and advocacy. But other cities have not been treated as fairly. If citizens want to bemoan the seemingly continuous increase in their property taxes, and I fully understand their angst, they must start to appreciate who the real villians are. Don’t moan and groan at City Hall. Take your frustration out on the MPPs and MPs who deserve it. Tell them that we need and demand a New Deal. One that will sustain our changed lifestyle instead of pitting us one against the other.

Submitted 2008/02/04 5:15 a.m. to the London Free Press as a ‘Point of View’ along with this restriction:
Please view my original post ( 2008/02/04/jonathan-shers-police-budget-half-truth/) and consider publishing it unedited as a POV. If you have reasons for editing it, I am willing to discuss that possibility, but will not surrender that right to you without justification. Submission of this article DOES NOT imply such consent.

Other Links:
2008/02/12 – Ottawa Citizen: Tax land, not homes
2008/02/12 – Globe & Mail: Miller Plays Politics

Sign the Petition… for Your Own Sake!

January 29, 2008

In my last post I referred to the potentially +$10 million property tax dollars that Londoners may have to pay for fighting an insect infestation, when it stands to reason that the full cost should be a shared provincial/federal responsibility. You can bet your boots that you had to pay GST on, that when provincial and federal politicians are handing out cash, they’re here all dressed up and smiling for their photo op. But when they turn around and transfer the financial responsibility for programs, they’re most often pretty quiet about it.

In fact, many people don’t ever take any notice. It doesn’t register on them because that recent innocuous blurb in a government press release wasn’t the kind that is meant to draw attention. If they wanted you to notice it, then it might say something like this:

Even though our hand is filled with the cash that we took from your left pocket (because that’s where you always put the money that we always take to pay for the the ‘stuff’ that we provide for you), and even though it’s lots more than we need to pay for your ‘stuff’ just like in previous years, and even though the year-after-year accumulation of all that extra cash is starting to get embarassing, we’re now putting our other hand into your other pocket. Just because we decided to, and because we figure you’ll let us.

It’s comparatively easy for the provincial and federal governments to pay for the things they want, because they have many ways to collect it. But your city government has limited ability to get the money it needs to function, and the main one is property tax. It’s become an increasingly dysfunctional instrument in the past half-century as we’ve moved much more demonstrably to a city-society compared to the previously farm-based rural society.

It’s way past time for an overhaul, like giving cities the same kind of ability to determine their own taxes that the higher governments have. And maybe doing away with property taxes altogether! But don’t expect that to happen any time soon…

Something that may be possible now though, provided enough people make a big enough noise about it, is a miniscule share of just one of the fed’s taxes. London is asking that just one cent of every GST dollar that the feds take from you be given to your city of London to spend on all the things that you expect but don’t want to pay more property taxes for. Like keeping any more roads from collapsing into the ground. Because it’s true, you ARE paying enough tax already. Only it’s going to the wrong government.

Is it asking too much? That for every 100 GST pennies that they take from you, the feds give London just one of them?

Grant Hopcroft is London’s Intergovernmental Liaison Director, and he was at the ETC meeting this evening to ask for help in getting the word out. To me, and YOU, and everybody else who lives in London. He wants us to sign the petition that’s on the city website in order to let your federal politicians know that you support the request that London get that measly one cent. That’s all. For now. Just to get the necessary tax re-balancing started. Such a small first step. So reasonable!

Please do it now, before you forget. Click HERE to go to the city website page where you’ll find a big blue link that says “Sign our online petition.”

Thank you. Feels good to work together doesn’t it? So, one last request. Do what I did. Go and ask somebody you know to do what you did. OMG, we’re cookin’ now!

2006 Fowler Election Platform – Taxes

CUPE’s Poverty Reduction Proposal

January 28, 2008

CUPE Ontario will make a deputation this afternoon that will propose three policy shifts that the government must make in order to achieve a reduction of poverty in the province…