Thursday, February 21, 2008

Vindicating South of Steeles

Blue Print

Final Report
The Mayor's Fiscal Review Panel

Within the well done report are a number of findings that echo my postings here at South of Steeles. Below are some snipets........

"For example,
long-standing manufacturing facilities within the City have been challenged
by globalization — free trade agreements, fluctuations in exchange
rates, and rapid technological change. Many have closed or relocated from the
City areas to surrounding municipalities, eroding the City’s industrial tax base.
The resulting damage has put pressure on Toronto’s commercial property tax
rates (currently the highest in the world for class A office space, according to a
recent study by CB Richard Ellis), with the effect of driving businesses to other
parts of the region. A recent study by REALpac shows that both Toronto’s and
Vancouver’s commercial-to-residential property tax ratio are tied at approximately
5:1 for the years 2004–2006. By comparison, Mississauga’s ratio is
approximately 2.6:1."

"Another option is simply to raise rates on existing residential taxes. There is
plenty of evidence to show that Toronto’s residential property taxes are very
low compared to the 905 region and other cities across the country. This has
often infuriated the Province, which does not feel the politicians in the City of
Toronto have done enough on this front. It certainly has aggravated business,
which has been asked to shoulder a disproportionate share of the tax burden."

"RECOMMENDATION: The City must take a multifaceted approach to
growing revenues including encouraging intensification through zoning
changes, less red tape, user fees, exploring with the Province the possibility
of new regional transportation related levies, and adjusting its real property
taxes to bring them in line with competing jurisdictions."

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Tax and Sprawl

Lawrence Solomon had some interesting comments in a Financial Post editorial.

Some excerpts below:

Property taxes might have been expressly designed to encourage production of greenhouse gases......

Residents of New York, for example, generate just 29% of the per-capita emissions that Americans as a whole produce. London does even better in eschewing emissions, besting New York by 20%. Canada's major metropolis, Toronto, cannot hold a candle to either city, with per-capita emissions 35% above New York's and 62% above London's.........

Instead of welcoming the inherent efficiency with which valuable downtown properties are used, cities punish them by taxing them on the basis of their high property values, rather than the actual costs of providing properties with municipal services. The tax on valued property encourages the use of low-value property further and further away, not just away from downtown but also in suburbs and beyond........

And worse. Businesses pay especially punitive property taxes, encouraging them to relocate outside the city boundary, and then commute into town to provide services to their city customers. After they leave, their staff and suppliers tend to follow them over time, contributing to the well-known hollowing out effect that cities experience. The hollowing out worsens because, when these taxpayers leave the city, the tax load must fall on the city's remaining taxpayers, increasing their tax burden and encouraging further departures......

The last point is especially interesting in that I have raised this point with city councillors before. Higher taxes are coming to Toronto. Whether they sift the burden away from or watch business stagnant and or leave, higher taxes are coming.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Steve Munro's Heaven or Hell ?

I wonder what Steve Munro would make of this?
(not really, tongue and cheek)
It really could go either way.