Jun 23, 2008

Transit tax

London, Ontario has just changed the property tax assessment for transit. If you own property within 450 metres of a transit route, you get a special assessment. Own property greater than that distance and you pay no transit tax.

The purpose of the change was twofold, said Jim Logan, the city's manager of revenue and tax collection.

The new system is fairer since its based on access to service and will allow more properties to be added to the transit tax roll as bus service expands in the annexed areas.

"As service expands, so will revenue," Logan said.

Durham Region points out on their web page, that the vast majority of transit tax is raised through a property tax rate that varies by local area municipality based on both the service level and the weighted assessment of the particular municipality.

Speaking of taxes, these people over at Metrolinx are beginning to scare me with their tax proposals. Metrolinx's mandate claims "To champion, develop and implement an integrated transportation system for our region that enhances prosperity, sustainability and quality of life." They are beginning to look more like tax collectors from medieval times. Metrolinx, is considering slapping motorists with additional gas taxes and road tolls. They are also looking at sales tax and a parking surcharge on non-residential parking spots. Crippling residents with crushing taxes is not the answer.

Do they want to propel us back to a medieval state of affairs, where we only leave our local area if we really must, and have to pay a big fat toll to a sheriff for the privilege of doing so.

These are only some of new taxes these people are proposing. I hope they remember, you can't get something from someone who doesn't have it.

London Free Press - Local News- Transit tax baffles public.


David Harrison said...

Hey Andy. We won't know exactly what Metrolinx will propose for another month, but you're right that some mixture of highway tolls, parking charges, fuel tax, and a regional sales tax seem to be in the offing. I doubt that we will see all of them - most likely two.

The regional sales tax is the odd one out here in that it charges everyone more-or-less equally. The others have a secondary purpose - to make the incremental cost of driving your car for one trip more expensive relative to taking transit, in hopes that drivers will find alternatives (walk, bike, car pool, or take transit).

Whether this is a good or bad thing is very much subject to personal perspective. I think that the amount of transit needed (Metrolinx estimates capital and operating costs of $4-6B per year over 25 years *above* current funding levels) is such that we need dedicated funding sources that are less prone to being cut back at the whim of the next government. But if we don't have these taxes, it will have to come out of provincial sales and income taxes, or it won't get built at all and we'll choose to have an increasingly immobile city region.

In any case, it bodes to be an interesting few months, particularly in September when public meetings happen. I can only imagine the screaming.

Nick J Boragina said...

I'm not sure if smaller and medium sized tranist areas like London or Durham could really find a sales tax useful, but for huge systems like the TTC it's a must IMHO. I'd rather see transit funded by progressive taxes, rather then property taxes myself.