Municipal Taxes, Where Do We Go for Funding
A lot of candidates will tell you they will hold the line with Property Taxes and they will be responsible with those tax dollars collected. A lot will tell you that we need development to control taxes. We need 70% residential tax base and a 30% Industrial/Commercial Tax Base. It is a well documented fact, that development does not pay for itself, nor does it relieve the burden of municipal taxes on those residents already here.
The Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville is currently at 95% residential and 5% Commercial/Industrial as its tax base. The current Mayor of Whitchurch-Stouffville wants to hit that 70/30 split by opening the Oak Ridges Moraine to development. Ok, we need more Commercial/Industrial taxes and fewer residential taxes. Do we rely on the removal of greenspace and farmland to fuel that need for the 70/30 split?
It is all well and good to bet your future on Commercial/Industrial property taxes, but one has to realize that commercial sales are being pushed more and more to online sales. This requires less and less commercial properties. Industrial properties may also be a role of the dice. It is a well know fact that the economy of Ontario is moving more and more to a technical or IT supported economy. This means, less trades, less industry that will move to buy properties to support the Industrial tax base. There are numerous municipalities looking at this concern. This is my concern for Whitchurch-Stouffville. Have we set ourselves up for disappointment in developing an agenda that relies on Industrial/Commercial property taxes?
The City of Markham has asked the Federal Government if they could rezone the Buttonville Airport to Mixed Use Zoning. Currently it is zoned Airport Lands with the change to Industrial if the Pickering Airport is developed. Mixed Use will add residential, commercial and industrial properties on this site. Markham feels that it cannot compete with the City of Toronto for Industrial businesses. If Markham cannot compete with Toronto, how can Whitchurch-Stouffville compete with Markham, let alone Toronto? How will Whitchurch-Stouffville will ever make that elusive 70%/30% split between Residential and Industrial/Commercial taxes?
The 70/30 split has been talked about for 25 years in Whitchurch-Stouffville. We are no closer than we were 20 years ago. We need to look at new ideas for funding. We need to rethink our ways of running the Town. I don’t have the confidence, that we have the staff to think this way right now. If Council and staff can only push one agenda, more industrial/commercial properties, then we are in trouble. We need to introduce some new agendas.
There are municipalities all over Southern Ontario that are looking at this concern. Large commercial box stores are closing down, Industry is moving out or closing down. The recent pandemic has made all businesses rethink their business plan. Office spaces are getting smaller, and employees are working from home now. Businesses are not building the larger industrial properties.
We need to look at ways of forcing Industrial Businesses to come to Town. If a property sits empty, and we need the jobs, then raise property taxes on that property until such time as it is developed. There are many properties within designated areas that are sitting empty. If we are looking to other ways of funding our municipality, then there is the Empty Homes Tax. Raise taxes on abandoned or empty homes or investment homes. This will solve 2 problems. 1, more taxes, 2 more homes to rent or to buy, cheaper house prices. We can raise taxes on vacant residential properties. Today, Developers own more farmland than any other industry in Southern Ontario. They get lower taxes while they rent out land to farmers to grow crops. Farm Land is taxed at a lower rate. If we tax this, Investment Properties, at a higher rate, we will force developers to build quicker. This may pave the way to lower house prices. This may also stop developers from buying outside our designated planning areas and stop putting pressure on our designated greenspaces.
As the Town Council, through leadership of our current Mayor, puts pressure to expand Industrial lands within the Greenbelt and on the Oak Ridges Moraine, they are also putting pressure to expand Residential lands within the Greenbelt and on The Oak Ridges Moraine. How do you get to 30% if you keep expanding the 95%?????
The Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville has been one of the fastest growing municipalities in Canada for the past 10 years. Why are we no closer to the 70%/30% split then we were 20 years ago? Remember, we are at 95%/5%. Will we ever get there? Is the current council banking on an ever-illusive target and setting us up for disappointment in the future? If we do not change the agenda now, we will just keep spinning our wheels on the never-ending treadmill of taxation deficits.
If you want a different agenda, if you want a “Different Kind of Better”
Vote Mark Carroll 4 Mayor