Deferred vote coming fast

Taxes Graphic

This graph shows the approximate shortfall facing
city hall even after the proposed taxes.

The land transfer and vehicle registration taxes come to a vote this Monday. The original vote was in July but city councillors decided to push it back to after the provincial election. Scarborough’s own weigh in.

With the anticipated vote on new municipal taxes coming up this Monday, Scarborough’s city councillors are still agreed on just one thing: nothing has changed.

Council voted July 16 to defer a decision on the new land transfer and vehicle registration taxes designed to help bail the city out of a fiscal crisis, in hopes they would get some good news from provincial election candidates.

Now with the vote on tap, at least five Scarborough reps are saying the situation isn’t much different than it was.

” There has really been no change in the provincial parties,” Ward 38 councillor Glen De Baeremaeker said. “The taxes are still necessary, but the delay cost us another $100-million.”

The proposal suggests a tax of one per cent be added to the cost of a newly purchased home, working out to an average of $4,000 for buyers. Secondly, motorists would also pay $60 a year to register their cars, while motorcyclists would pay half of that.

Brian Ashton, of Ward 36, said the delay would have been worth it if Miller had made a bigger push towards the provincial candidates.

“[Deferring the vote] got it onto the [election] agenda, which is good,” Ashton said. “The mayor did not take on the gauntlet to push for funding though.”

“We have to share the pain here,” De Baeremaeker said. “McGuinty has said he agrees [all the bills Toronto is responsible for] is a problem and he will address it, but the province is never going to take back all the costs that were downloaded on us so we’ve got to do something.”

Ashton’s opposition to the taxes has not changed.

” The tax is regressive. It is designed to tax the fewest people for the most amount of money,” he said.

In the middle of all of this, Miller decided to close community centres in Toronto on Mondays as a way to save money. As full time workers sat inside empty buildings on Sept. 17, councillors criticized the decision.

” It was ridiculous,” said councillor Chin Lee of Ward 41. ” Just to save half a million dollars you impact so many people? Don’t try and fool the public.”

As Monday approached, supporters on both sides agreed the vote will be very close.

While Lee subscribes to Yogi Berra’s age old adage “it ain’t over till it’s over,” Ashton, Moeser and De Baeremaeker, though their positions differ, believe it will eventually pass.

“I say shame on whoever doesn’t support these taxes,” De Baeremaeker said.