(WINDSOR, ON) – In its request for approval of the city’s 2016 budget, administrators recommended a tax increase of 1.75%. However, they did tell council that if it, “… wishes to achieve an overall zero tax increase including Agencies, Boards & Commissions, then $3,036,716 in additional savings will need to be identified to offset the increase.”
It is a curious amount, about equal to the operating losses at the downtown pool, and about equal to the $3 million said to be the city’s share of hosting the Drew Dilkens/FINA short swimming competition next year.
Oddly enough, without the losses at the pool and the cost of the city hosting this extravagant swimming competition, at a cost of some $21 million, the budget would not only be balanced but the city would have a surplus, which could lead to a tax decrease.
The city could easily break even with no tax increase by simply closing the money losing pool and getting out of the water park business. In fact, if it could sell off the building, it might even be able to add to the tax decrease.
The question becomes, why should taxpayers suffer the indignity of paying for the Francis Council’s mistakes? And, why taxpayers should fund its faux efforts to gain world notoriety, which it will not achieve, even though ineffective councillor, and now interim mayor, Drew Dilkens ecstatically talks of literally billions of television viewers standing by to watch his minor swimming event.
As is usual, the administrators are living well beyond their means. They correspondingly blame the city’s, “… comparatively very low average residential property assessment values that require comparatively higher tax rates.”
The truth is, the city’s assessment levels do not support the kind of frivolous spending that is a trademark of the Francis Council. Instead, the city needs a glory-free, meat and potatoes type of budget.
At best, the administrators and the Francis Council need to adjust their spending to the reality of low property tax assessments.
It is hard to understand how a city in such straights can even afford expensive swimming events and unneeded new city halls. By not building a new hall, and doing what Essex did for a fraction of the cost, by simply renovating its administrative centre, the city would be able to further reduce the tax burden.
It would certainly not need an additional tax, such as administration’s favoured annual levy for road repair, that will increase each year and eventually remove half a billion from the local economy.
The administrators think the $268 million allocated for road repair, by the mayor for the next five years, is not enough to do the roads justice saying, “… even at these higher funding levels, road ratings will continue to deteriorate without a significant additional and sustainable funding infusion”.
This levy is very hard to understand. It is a tax taxpayers will have to pay over and above what they are now paying, simply because the Francis Council is using tax money to pay for other things. Strike the nonsense of a new city hall, underpasses under Riverside Drive, and the mounting costs of the FINA event, and there should be more than enough cash to bump up road repair spending.
The report itself is heavy on self-congratulatory content from the administrators who tell a tale of the, “… 2016 estimated overall property tax levy of $392.8 million will actually be LESS than the 2006 Overall tax ley of $393.8 million.”
It is a nice try on their part.
Factually it is true, but what they are not saying is that in 2006 the education portion of the full tax bill was .00264. It declined to .00195 last year, and is expected to drop again this year.
In a perfect world, tax revenues should be dropping to account for the reduction in education taxes. However, this is not happening.
It actually proves that there has been no holding the line on taxes and, in fact, they have been increasing. The municipal residential tax rate in 2006 was .01409796. In 2015 it was .01634756. Without a calculator, it sure looks like taxes have been increasing.
Councillors are pretending, again, that they have held the line on taxes, not including the costly levy. And why wouldn’t they?
Robert Tuomi can be heard at 8:30 pm every Monday evening and noon every Wednesday co-hosting Talkin’ ‘Bout Windsor on CJAM 99.1 FM. Listen on demand to previous episodes or catch the discussion live and join in. Talkin’ ‘Bout Windsor is broadcast every Monday and Wednesday to the Windsor and Detroit listening area and streamed online at CJAM.