A single senior taxpayer who does not have a private pension plan will receive about $19,000 per year when OAS, CPP and GIS are totaled up. An AMO document produced last year suggests municipal property taxes would have to increase by over eight percent a year over the next 10 years to fund existing programs and tackle the infrastructure deficit. For that same senior taxpayer the effect would be devastating, eating up more than a third of his or her gross income. Clearly taxpayers of modest means have hit the wall when it comes to the cost of municipal government and their ability to pay. Something has to give. Every year in Hamilton and other municipalities, councils are presented with a list of budget “pressures” and usually it’s an ugly number. Then everybody sharpens their pencils and we end up with a smaller budget increase and congratulate ourselves on an increase of say “only two percent.” The trouble is, the year after year accumulation of “only a couple of percent” has driven Hamilton’s municipal costs up more than double the rate of inflation. In that regard we are no worse (and certainly no better) than most other municipalities but that should be little consolation. Toronto Mayor John Tory has decided to push back against the trend by actually promoting across the board spending decreases. The challenge is always how to make cuts without cutting services. The answer is not going to be easy, but it won’t happen if we don’t take a hard look at re-engineering government service delivery. What’s for sure, is that the days of taking last year’s spending and practices and just tacking on a couple of percent are over, as is the annual practice of telling taxpayers to “cheer up, it could have been a lot worse.”

Providing a fresh perspective for Hamilton and Burlington

Leave a Reply

  • (not be published)