Thursday, September 23, 2010

Wyatt urges vote on city sales tax


Would you be willing to pay an extra penny on a can of Coke if all the cash went toward Winnipeg's crumbling roads, bridges and buildings?

That question -- or a more legalistic version of it -- will be on Winnipeg's civic election ballot next month if Transcona Coun. Russ Wyatt has his way.

The quixotic councillor wants city council to add a referendum question to the Oct. 27 ballot, asking Winnipeggers to support a one per cent municipal sales tax that would be dedicated to infrastructure renewal.
From the Free Press. Is a municipal sales tax a good idea? Maybe, maybe not. I'd like to see a municipal income tax, but I don't think municipalities have the legal authority to levy income taxes. Failing that, a sales tax might be a good idea; while sales taxes are somewhat regressive, not having enough revenue to pay for programs is far more regressive.

What's interesting is that Wyatt, as well as Judy Wasylycia-Leis, is willing to put the idea of tax increases on the table. Maybe people are finally noticing that a permanent tax freeze has consequences, and are willing to accept that a small tax increase might be necessary. Then again, it could be that Judy and Russ (and me, for that matter) have fallen into wishful thinking. We'll have to see.

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