Thursday, February 24, 2011

More signs of knee jerk anti-tax sentiment in Canada

Councillors in Hamilton attempted to introduce a tax on large paved areas. There's a good reason to penalize such expanses, as they send more stormwater into the sewer system, which costs the city money. Of course, it's easy to whip up public sentiment against something like this, especially if you give it a scary sounding name like "rain tax" (perhaps they borrowed the notion from the Manitoba PCs, who have gotten ridiculous amounts of traction by applying the term "vote tax" to something that, strictly speaking, is not a tax at all). So what was the actual proposal anyway?

The fee, originally presented to council in 2009, was created to penalize the owners of large swaths of asphalt and concrete – surfaces that send storm water rushing into the city’s overloaded sewer system.

The initial version of the plan would have required households to pay an annual fee of around $72, about the equivalent of a 3 per cent increase on your property tax bill.

However, Merulla and Whitehead were proposing a new version of the plan that would only target the commercial and industrial sectors and protect residential taxpayers from the new fee.

Sounds pretty reasonable, and no doubt if you presented it this way to the public, most of them would agree with it. Of course, many councillors didn't want to take the chance on this, and the measure was defeated. Too bad, because as a commenter on the story pointed out, taxpayers are on the hook for the rain anyway, thanks to the costs of overloading the sewage system.

No comments: