Tax increase needed (letter)
London Community News
Editor’s Note: This is a copy of a letter sent to the mayor and members of city council
I would like to thank those members that are advocating for a balanced approach to taxation in the 2013 budget, following the staff recommendation to moderately raise taxes while making some cuts to make the difference. I would also like to ask those members that advocate for a third straight zero per cent tax increase to reconsider.
I would love to see my property taxes remain the same. However, I don’t believe a four-year zero per cent tax freeze is achievable without severe cuts to city services. I believe the city should be creative and work to find efficiencies wherever possible to provide London residents with the best service at the least cost.
I believe we should be spending wisely. Instead of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on light shows and remodeling the Forks of the Thames, we should be investing that money in community programs, infrastructure and culture.
That is why I advocate for a balanced approach. A tax increase of at least 5.8 per cent is needed to maintain city budgets exactly where they are now, while another zero per cent increase would demand a further $25 million be found to cover the shortfall. I believe a goal of 3.5 per cent is most prudent, to work to further trim where possible without unduly harming either taxpayers or city services/staff.
We’re told low tax rates encourage business, something London desperately needs right now. However, I believe this focuses on only half of the issues facing our city. We are also struggling to retain the talented graduates of Western and Fanshawe that come to our city every year, and London residents that have grown up here. This can only happen if City Hall shows it is willing to properly invest in our community.
Many services are under consideration for cuts to achieve zero per cent next year. Less landscaping, street cleaning, park maintenance, slashing our public transit system by more than 20,000 hours, less sidewalk clearing in winter, higher fees for public services; these are just a few on the list. A city with an abysmal public transit system, marred by substandard maintenance and infrastructure, without culture and service investment hardly sounds like a city of opportunity.
We are a global city, attempting to attract a global market. Lower taxes may help induce business, but we also need to be a city people want to live in. If our neighbours like Kitchener-Waterloo, Guelph and the GTA, continue to make strides to update their cities, their services, their culture and their infrastructure as we put everything on hold until the economy improves, we will find ourselves further behind every day.
I came to London to study urban planning technology at Fanshawe. Once graduated, I married, purchased a house and have been fortunate to start a small business. I love London, and although I can perform my work from any location, we have chosen to make London home. However, I am concerned that not enough investment is being made to make our city the absolute best it can be. For this reason I ask you to rethink zero per cent.
Thank you for your time, and consideration. If you’d like to contact me, I can be reached at this address and the numbers provided, I’d be glad to further discuss this complex issue with you.
Brian Gibson, London