The line between fees and higher taxes is getting a little blurry
As our regular readers know, Mayor Gregor Robertson and his hand-picked city manager have been on a major PR campaign trying to convince Vancouverites (and their employees) how awful the budget situation is. A couple of weeks ago they held PowerPoint-laden news conferences and media scrums telling all of us the budget deficit would be $61 million bucks. That would have translated into an 11% property tax increase.
Lo and behold, as we predicted here earlier, the 2010 draft budget report has now come out and it indicates the maximum Vancouverites will have to pay in property taxes is about 5%. This is completely in range with previous budget years. In fact, the City Manager has asked Finance staff to produce a final budget which would result in 1-2% tax increases (so much for the Budget Chair's prediction that tax increases would be 0%).
Another innocuous report was also tucked away beneath the budget report and posted on the City's website today. It recommends that fees for a number of city services be jacked to help plump up city coffers. You may argue it's better to have fees go up than property taxes. However, at the end of the day, someone is going to be dropping a lot more coins at the corner of 12th and Cambie - no matter how you slice it. The following is a brief summary outlining some of the proposed fee hikes. Keep in mind the rate of inflation in Canada is about 1-2%.
- Do you want to adopt a dog? The fees will be increased from $200 to $250 bucks. An increase of 25% over last year.
- License fees charged to marina operators who host live-aboard boats will be increased by an average of 8%.
- Want to adopt a parakeet or lovebird? The fee will go from nada to $16 bucks.
- Has your dog slipped under the fence and made it over to the pound? The maintenance fees you pay will be increased by 33% to $20 dollars per day.
- Thinking of cremating your pooch? The fees for dogs weighing over 66 pounds is going up by 38%. It was $95 bucks...and will now be $120.
On a final note, it is interesting that Vancouver's 2010 budget (staff cuts, fee increases, service reductions and all) will be approved on December 15th...ten days before Christmas. Well timed if you don't want the public/media to focus much attention on it. Pass the eggnog, I'm already feeling the spirit of the season.