Is it really worth re-opening old amalgamation wounds by suggesting we eliminate area rating for transit? After all, the savings that would accrue to a taxpayer in the old city of Hamilton would be somewhere between 60 and a hundred dollars a year. That’s peanuts. Also the timing of the suggestion is bad. Right now Hamilton is facing tremendous uncertainty about the future cost of our transit system. If LRT were to become a reality it would transfer the revenue from some of the HSR’s most lucrative routes to the private sector operator. The HSR would be left with what’s left and almost certainly the deficit that currently has to be made up by taxes would increase. Let’s wait to see what the real costs of transit will be before re-allocating the burden.
Speaking of area rating, there has been a lot of discussion this winter about cracking down on people who do not clear snow from sidewalks. Apparently it would cost an additional $5 Million a year to provide sidewalk plowing across the city. There are about 150,000 households in the urbanized part of the city so the cost per household would be about $35. While no doubt, there are able bodied scofflaws who refuse to shovel their walks, with an aging population; it is more likely that there are many residents who are simply physically unable to shovel out. All it takes is two or three of these households on a given city block and the whole street becomes impassible for someone in a wheel chair for instance. How to pay for the snow ploughing without raising taxes? Take the money from the roughly $1 Million that each of the original Hamilton councillors are given each year from their area rating fund.