Vision implements 12% tax increase over two years

Post by Daniel Fontaine in

6 comments

bewildered
Tax breaks for banks, cuts to libraries and community centres. Many of Vision Vancouver's supporters are bewildered regarding their budget priorities

Now that the dust is settling from what felt like months of budget debate, Vision Vancouver has now passed their 4.26% tax increase. As a result, homeowners will have experienced a 12% tax increase over two years under this administration, while business taxes remain frozen.

Let me first say that I applaud a number of media outlets who actually got the 4.26% tax increase number correct in their coverage of the budget. Unfortunately, a number of folks were still inaccurately reporting the increase was only 2.26%. The fact remains when you add 2% from the taxes that businesses should have paid, residents end up footing the total 4.26% bill in 2010.

Despite opposition from COPE and the NPA, it now appears the days are numbered for cherished icons such as the Bloedel Conservatory and the Stanley Park petting zoo. Community centres, libraries, graffiti removal and garbage pickup are also being negatively impacted. This is all being done in order that left-leaning Vision can help brand itself as "fiscal conservatives" to broaden their appeal to the likes of the Vancouver Fair Tax Coalition and other right-of-centre organizations. The Mayor's senior advisors (and pollsters) have likely told him this will help Robertson in his quest to become Premier of BC one day.

Meanwhile tens of thousands of their union and non-unionized supporters must be sitting at home bewildered with what has become of their Vision Vancouver under Robertson's leadership. That's because while the Mayor and his caucus cut funding for libraries, parks and community centres, they are willingly taking on responsibility for files that were once the sole jurisdiction of senior levels of government. Last week alone Robertson spent $1 million dollars to help combat homelessness - an issue that has normally been funded by senior levels of government with much deeper pockets. They also introduced a new $1000 subsidy program to help defray the cost of homeowners wanting to install solar panels.

When Mayor Robertson is not traveling the world at taxpayers expense (Copenhagen trip just cost $11,000 + unknown carbon emissions) to help save the global environment, he's making Obama-like pronouncements on issues such as homelessness and mental health. Meanwhile, on the home front, bread and butter municipal issues such as securing funding to replace the aging Bloedel conservatory roof don't capture his imagination. If you don't believe me, just re-read a post from where Robertson didn't even mention the Bloedel in his wishlist of infrastructure needs to the Feds. In fact, we revealed he didn't even have a list.

Civic budgets are where partisan politics are stripped away and you get to see what the real priorities are for any government. In the case of Vision, those priorities include property tax breaks for the big banks, cuts to libraries and community centres and the layoff of over 150 unionized employees. Clearly not something their supporters had anticipated.

While other cities such as Coquitlam and Edmonton were able to convince their voters that a modest 5% tax increase during this recession was necessary, Vancouver went in a different direction. Other jurisdictions have been able to get unanimous support for their budgets, while in Vancouver both COPE and the NPA vehemently voted against this one.

In the end, the big winner in all of this is City Manager Penny Ballem. She took a gamble that she would have the political support necessary to begin cutting back services at City Hall - and won. Now that she has been empowered, you can expect there will be more cuts. Ballem's Core Services Review will likely continue to cause much angst in the public service and its unions for months to come.

While Ballem's efforts to "cut the fat" is being applauded in certain sectors of the business community, it's only a matter of time before her employees and the citizens of Vancouver wake up to the reality of what is happening at 12th and Cambie.

Slowly and systematically the organization is being stripped apart and re-organized to meet Ballem's vision for a modern and efficient civic government. As we all know, Ballem was instrumental in the controversial reorganization with BC's health authorities when she was Deputy Minister of Health.

Vancouver is rated as one of the best cities in the world in part due to its professional and committed public service. That shouldn't be overlooked as Ballem prepares to dig the surgical knife even deeper to find further efficiencies.

It's hard to believe that Vision Vancouver only has one budget left before they go back to the polls. It will be interesting to see if they continue with their cost cutting mantra straight through to 2011. Early indicators are that the finances at City Hall will leave them with little wriggle room for the foreseeable future.

- Post by Daniel

6 Comments

let's get this straight. 2.25% BUDGET increase was passed. How it splits after that is an entirely different conversation.

Tell that to the Vancouver Sun Julia,

http://www.vancouversun.com/life/Vancouver+city+budget+cuts+jobs+raises+taxes+cent/2359291/story.html

"The $961-million budget was revised slightly as council decided to raise residential taxes by 2.26 per cent"

good point Judy. Does the Vancouver Sun actually have a research department, or have they all been laid off? How could they print this kind of stuff without checking their facts? The CBC radio also reported that council raised residential taxes by "a modest 2.26 percent". They are simply reading Robertson's press releases and printing them without checking the facts. Tisk tisk.

"The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, made his eyes red, his thin lips blue, and he spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice ..."
From Charles Dickens' 1843, A Christmas Carol

Gregorinch Ebenezer Robertscrooge is alive and kicking in Vancouver, ladies and gentlemen!
It is not a matter of why but of when the Three Ghost of Elections ((Ghost of Elections Past, Ghost of Elections Present, and Ghost of Elections Yet to Come) will start haunting the Vancouver Hypocritical Vision that he is “proudly” representing, ‘cause without doubt he is not representing me, as a Vancouver resident. Travels to Athens, London and Copenhagen on public dough, inside a two months period, in order to bring home a freaking lamp or to play pretend games on climate change is low even when compared to a bum's standards. Then to publicly announce later that there are tough days ahead, and that the Vancouver people should prepare in making sacrifices, during which time he could find himself and his side-kick a $ 11,000 travel cheque so they can formally invite a Billionaire British Knight to visit a place that sent him Virginally packing, in the business sense of course, not long ago... is simply despicable.
To spend more public money in order to fly in, wine and dine, fellows that could afford to buy themselves our downtown core, if they wanted to, having no guarantees WHAT-SO-EVER of incoming business, other than a shake hand and a "Cheers" is totally arrogant.
Our Mayor loves to rub shoulders with the rich and powerful, I dig that, but strictly on somebody else’s money. Could this be part of his future plans? After all, maybe he is preparing for the days to come.
For everybody knows, misery loves company. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick.

I'm still waiting for Mayor Moonbeam to announce the establishment of a city space academy and the purchase of a satellite (to be launched into orbit) to provide emergency communications for the city.

...And to scan overhead for violators not participating in the city's green initiative of having a backyard chicken coop.

Oh wait... Mayor Moonbeam has invited Richard Branson from the good spaceship Virgin to town.

Hey-quit kicking Branson and I'll get you an invite to the after-party...wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!

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