Saturday, January 05, 2008

Demand full disclosure from municipalities

We often hear municipal governments complaining they only receive eight cents of every tax dollar. However, municipal politicians fail to mention the billions of dollars municipalities across Canada receive from the federal and provincial governments. Municipal politicians use this lack of disclosure to bolster their demand for higher taxation. It's time to demand transparency from municipal governments and limit municipal claims on our tax dollars.

Since 1990, municipalities across Canada have received over $20 billion from federal and provincial governments. B.C. municipalities can access over 50 different grant programs. For example, since 2003 the province has contributed about $170 million to municipalities for policing under the Traffic Fine Revenue Sharing Grant Program. The number of police officers in Surrey rose by 36% between 2003 and 2007, but only by 9.5% in Vancouver. The per resident cost of protective services in Surrey is $29 but in Vancouver, it is $108. Instead of whining about a lack of funds, municipalities must learn to spend more efficiently.

Municipalities are creations of provincial governments. Provincial governments must rein in the activities of municipal politicians, limit municipal claims on tax dollars, and improve municipal accountability.

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