I’m very mindful of the pressures on businesses, people with fixed and declining incomes, and on small businesses that are struggling valiantly through the pandemic to keep doors open and people paid.
I know we can reduce their tax burden by bringing more focus to the work we do. For four years at City Hall, I saw so much opportunity to better control excessive spending. I initiated the Program and Service Review which was supposed to find efficiencies and also figure out what the city should stop doing. It was to be completed in 2017 but has stalled. There has been no political will to get that completed. Since I left in 2017, the City’s budget has grown from $2.7 billion to $3.01 billion, a rate of increase that is not sustainable.
Better program assessment, more focus on clear priorities and fiscal discipline means we can hold the line on taxes, control our spending, and provide much-needed tax relief for our citizens while making important investments in priority areas.
As Mayor, I would commit to freezing property taxes for my first year in office, which is possible within the City’s current budget. Then in year 2 I commit to LOWERING property taxes by at least 1.2%, after refocusing the service review mentioned above. In years 3&4 I would work with the provincial government to keep property taxes frozen, by ensuring they step up to cover their obligations.