It is a nasty, sneaky, dishonest way of explaining to tax payers how much of a tax increase they are going to be hit with.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

October 31st, 2019



It is a nasty, sneaky, dishonest way of explaining to tax payers how much of a tax increase they are going to be hit with.

The tax bill people get includes taxes levied by the school boards, taxes levied by the Regional government and taxes levied by the city of Burlington.

It was found to be more efficient to put all the taxes on the one bill – it also made it easier to collect.

HDSB trustees

The Board of Education determines how much money they need in the way of taxes; all the city does is collect it for them.

The city has zip influence on what the school board levy in the way of taxes to pay for the operation of our school system. All the city does is collect the money and pass it along to the school board.

Full region

Burlington has seven votes on the 24 member Regional Council – input on the tax levy – nothing more than that.

The city has some (not very much) influence on what the Region decides they need in the way of tax money to operate the services they provide: police, the water system, waste management along with health and social services.

The only tax level the city controls is what they spend on delivering the services they provide.

In the 2020-2021 budget that is to go before Council in November reference is made to “unfunded service enhancements which if added to the budget brings the city tax increase to 4.73% (2.76% when combined with the Region and Education taxes).

The public is looking at a tax increase of more than 4% – probably close to 5% once they decide just how much they want to spend on climate control matters.

What Council does when they play around with the numbers is akin to the 17 year old, single daughter who says to her Father: Daddy I am just a little bit pregnant.

Taxes are inevitable. Treat the public with the respect they deserve and tell them the truth. Stop the pussyfooting around.

City council on innauguration Dec 3rd - 2018

This city council has an opportunity to teach the bureaucrats to be more open and honest with the tax payers.

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9 comments to It is a nasty, sneaky, dishonest way of explaining to tax payers how much of a tax increase they are going to be hit with.

  • david barker

    There seems to be no “reply” button to your comment, Philip. Maybe that was deliberate (kidding)

    You are totally correct. “Philly” was puerile of me. It is a pet peeve of mine when one makes oneself known by a name and then the other party presumes familiarity and shortens that name; Dave in my case. So yes, I was making the point but yeah, a bit over the top.

    I wish I was still in bed at the time you say you drive by; but again you presume incorrectly. Becoming a bit of a habit.

    We obviously have different views, perspectives as to the snow clearing on Lakeshore. All I can say is I have to be out many times during a snow fall with my shovel and snow blower to ensure the ploughs in their many passed by do not block my driveway with layer upon layer of snow/ice.

    How in your view is Oakville able to achieve better results than Burlington?

    What solution(s) do you offer that could be implemented do snow clearing in Burlington meets with your satisfaction?

    As to standing for office, that was no deflection. It was and remains a serious comment. It’s easy to criticize our elected officials, no matter what level of government, but particularly those at the municipal level. It’s a lot more difficult to actually get up there, do the job of trying to please all, whilst being responsible, and then being the recipient of that criticism. If one is so upset with the job that is being done by others on one’s behalf, get up there yourself and take on the job.

  • Elan

    And, BTW, Let’s not forget the ‘zero tax increase’ push from the previous Council over the years delayed and dumped all the infrastructure upgrade and future issues on future Burlington residents (Today!). Let’s not protest too much, now.

    • david barker

      Absolutely ! Very good point, though probably lost on those who wish to somehow see the council’s actions as being driven by a Liberal party connection.

      If we want to receive the services, and we want them to be at a high quality, we must be prepared o pay for them. Just because it is a municipal government providing the services rather than a commercial corporation doesn’t mean they come any cheaper.

      • Phillip Wooster

        Dave, I understand you are so comfortable with a tax and spend government that you ignore the reality. Higher taxes are not bringing us higher quality services. I’ve lived in Burlington since 1976 and I don’t see better municipal services; in fact in some areas, I see much worse. Nowhere is this clearer than in snow removal. I can’t count the number of snowy mornings I’ve driven to Oakville at 7 am and the roads are a mess—until I reach Burloak Drive along Lakeshore. Suddenly the road is wet and reasonably clear, the secondary roads plowed–Oakville gets it done, Burlington doesn’t!

        Here’s what I do see–money wasted on “nice-to-haves” (the Pier stands as an enduring monument to fiscal profligacy and mismanagement at City Hall), idiotic lane reductions on New Street, speed bumps that do nothing, and lots of virtue signalling. No sign, however, of any meaningful, zero-based budgeting; no serious review of line-item expenditures. It’s just last year’s numbers PLUS a percentage—and sticking it to the taxpayers to make up the difference.

        • david barker

          Phil, it’s “David”, thank you.

          You assume incorrectly. I am not “comfortable with tax and spend” as you put it. Nor am I at all comfortable with “cut services to cut or maintain a tax level”. Municipalities live in the same world as the rest of us, where inflation, HR, materials and other costs cause service provision costs to go up. So to expect status quo is a bit unreasonable. Sure efficiencies may be able to be found, but after years of searching for efficiencies, we are likely scraping the bottom of the barrel, if not having made a hole in it. So to mitigate the effect of increased costs the only available option would seem to be to cut services.

          I live on Lakeshore an cannot agree with your position re snow clearing. I find Burlington does as good a job as anywhere else. Maybe though Canadian drivers should stop being wusses and learn to drive side streets on packed snow like they do in many areas of Europe.

          Were you a part of the budget review process in each area of the City’s operations? Because I am wondering how you know there was “no serious review of line item expenditures”. Please enlighten us how you know this for certain.

          The City has a difficult job in drawing a balance in providing “nice to haves”. What you consider “nice to have” another might feel that to be most important to them and vice versa. We all pay our fair share of taxes.

          Philly, you have a right to your opinion, as do I, and to express it too. But just remember you got to vote for your choice of Mayor and councillor as did I. So I guess you must have voted for other candidates. Maybe next time around stand in the election yourself as a candidate.

          • Phillip Wooster

            David, it’s Philip to you; “Philly” is such a puerile cheap-shot that tells me a great deal about you.

            Your observations about snow clearing on Lakeshore Road are pure fantasy. I drive that route most mornings at 7am (of course, perhaps you don’t get up until much later) and there is such a significant difference between snow-clearing in Oakville and in Burlington. It’s nice to fantasize about what a great job is being done at City Hall but it’s not in keeping with reality. BTW, your deflections about running for office add nothing to the discussion, but they were not unexpected.

  • Elan

    Base on current public disclosures, this article, and it’s math, is nuts. And leading it with an assumption that the Council is trying to purposely mislead residents (“sneaky, dishonest”)is irresponsible headline-grabbing and Nuts. And regarding comments so far = Human nature of residents: want more for themselves, but want to pay the same or less. That, again, is nuts. This is not Brigadoon. Change is happening here. Residents want it. Residents demand it. And there will be decisions on priorities to make. Council needs to be transparent on these choices. I trust they will be. I don’t think they intend to be ‘Sneaky, Dishonest”. Shame.

  • Ben Tuinman

    4.73% seems too steep an increase, and our City should crunch the numbers and bring it down to around 2% at the most. It can, and must be done!

  • Phillip Wooster

    I’m not surprised that the City is envisioning a tax increase of 4.73%–it is totally in keeping with the Liberal mantra which the Mayor espouses—spend and tax, spend and tax, spend and tax. HOw many people in Burlington are going to receive an increase in their income this year of 4.73%? Most will be lucky if they see even half of that. The inevitable result is that people will see a decrease in their disposable income and standard of living to pay for the profligacy at City hall.

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