The city’s 2018 audited statement was made available for public perusal on
May 13. It makes for an interesting read.
It shows the city had a $114 million operating surplus at the end of 2018 that it put into various reserve accounts.
The audit also confirms the city has accumulated a total of $2.04 billion in surpluses over the years and is also holding them in reserve accounts.
The audit shows the city received revenues totalling $401 million from all sources in 2018.
The largest revenues share was $153 million (38%) from fees and charges. Taxation came second bringing in $146 million (36%).
Alarmingly, the city only received $13 million (3%) in DCC payments from developers, which fell far short of the $21 million projected in the 2018 final budget.
Clearly, taxpayers and city utility and service users are paying the freight on city expenses, while developers are paying very little. In fact, the city made as much revenue from investment interest as they received from developer DCC payments.
Mayor Colin Basran and his staff tell us that the city has no money and cannot afford to build new parks or to complete the Abbott Street corridor or to develop a detailed urban centre plan for South Pandosy to ensure OCP 2040 densification actually follows a plan rather than allowing developers to design the area on a piecemeal basis.
The city has squirrelled away $2.04 billion in reserves while services and planning priorities are being ignored. Residents have a huge financial burden and pay a higher proportion of taxes and fees than the developers who profit from urban growth.
More equitable revenue sources are needed to ease the financial burden on residents.
A good first step would be for the city to amend its the DCC Bylaw to eliminate the current 27% taxpayer subsidy that assists developers pay for infrastructure needed by their new projects and to replace this subsidy with DCC rates where developers pay the full cost for roads, parks, sewers and water supplies.
A smart second step would be for the city to eliminate the 4% infrastructure levy it charges all property owners and replace it with a 4% tourist tax to build and maintain parks, beaches and other recreation facilities that attracts them here.
A wise third step would be for the city to eliminate the 10-year tax exemption program given to developers to build new rental apartments — like the West Avenue project — that have no public benefit because they lack rent controls and are rented at market rates rather than at affordable rates.