Thursday, August 23, 2007

Responding to Cobourg Blog on uploading

Cobourg Blog  » Blog Archive  » Uploading - is it good?

John makes some really good points, particularly when it comes to thinking about who ultimately pays. As one politician said, "The money for taxes comes out of either the left pocket or the right one. It really doesn't matter. There is only one taxpayer."

Still, there are reasons for taxpayers to care about which level of government is responsible. Municipalities have very limited options when it comes to raising revenues. Mainly, it is generated by property tax. There are also user fees and service charges. A good example is the tags used in Northumberland County for garbage pick up. There are also development charges, which are meant to be used to cover costs of providing infrastructure, like sewers and roads. And, some of the money can go into reserve funds for parks. The idea is to cover the additional costs rather than have them covered by existing residents. (Sometimes municipalities will wave these fees, leaving current taxpayers on the hook).

There is something to consider, when John talks about uploading. Money is power. If a level of government is paying, then they generally get to call the shots. And, as he points out when discussion school boards, there can be a debate over who should run things, when they are not directly responsible for raising the funds.

The federal and provincial levels of government have far more avenues for generating revenues than municipalities. A one cent hike in gas taxes can generate millions of dollars. So, it is a lot more effective to take this approach rather than leave it to property taxpayers to cough up the dough.

But, as we saw the the frink in the harbour, when grants flow freely, the money can quickly become wasted.

John is right, with the provincial election underway, these are the topics that need to be debated. Let's make it clear who is going to pay for what.

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