New levies, user fees could be on way for Vaughan taxpayers
May 28, 2015
By Adam Martin-Robbins
Faced with a multi-million dollar fiscal crunch, the city’s newly minted budget task force is exploring ways of cutting costs and boosting revenue, including reining in expenditures on waste collection and snow plowing, hiking user fees and lobbying the provincial government for powers to introduce new levies.
“What can be done to address the cost of (waste management and winter maintenance service)? Obviously, we can reduce service, but there may be other ways to address the actual cost there that we need to look at as well as part of this task force,” Thornhill Councillor Alan Shefman said during the inaugural meeting Tuesday morning.
In addition to Shefman, the task force includes Woodbridge East Councillor Rosanna DeFrancesca, Regional Councillor Gino Rosati and Concord/North Thornhill Councillor Sandra Yeung Racco, who serves as chair, as well as City Manager Steve Kanellakos and city finance staff.
The task force was struck after the 2015 budget talks wrapped up earlier this year to find ways of ensuring tax increases during this term of council don’t exceed 3 per cent.
That equates to reducing the budget by about $15 million next year, $14 million in 2017 and $17 million in 2018, according to a staff report presented to the task force.
Of course, the city won’t have to slash too much if it can find ways to bring in more money.
City finance staff noted reviews of fees charged by four departments - recreation and culture, bylaw and compliance, planning and engineering - are under way and could result in increased revenue toward some programs and services.
Rosati, meanwhile, suggested lobbying the province to allow Vaughan to impose new fees, especially at libraries, which can only charge users for a limited number of things such as late fees and room rentals.
“The library, it is a huge cost, and we’re not allowed to collect one cent other than late fees,” he said. “Everything else we do we have some kind of fee, an annual fee or pay-as-you-go fee,” he said.
Maple/Kleinburg Councillor Marilyn Iafrate, who briefly attended Tuesday’s meeting, suggested asking Queen’s Park to give Vaughan taxation powers similar to those granted to Toronto in 2006, which led to the introduction of a land transfer tax, among other things.
Iafrate said introducing a land transfer tax on resale homes here could pump as much as $33 million into the city’s coffers.
Although they’re facing a daunting task, Shefman said he’s committed to limiting the impact to residents of any cost-saving measures that are implemented.
The task force is scheduled to meet again June 3, June 22, Sept. 21 and Sept. 22.
All meetings are held at city hall and are open to the public.
For more information, visit vaughan.ca.