Mississauga councillors have voted to add an unprecedented 5 per cent surcharge to property taxes next year as the city tries to tackle an infrastructure crisis that could put the famously debt-free municipality in hock within five years.And here's Hazel:
The levy, to be imposed on top of a proposed 3.9 per cent hike in the city's share of property taxes, is expected to bring in about $12.5 million next year. It could make Mississauga the most heavily taxed city in the GTA. And it still won't be enough.
While the surcharge will add about $50 to the average residential tax bill, it falls far short of garnering the $75 million needed in each of the next 20 years to cover $1.5 billion in repairs and replacement of aging bridges, roads, and water and sewer systems.
In that respect, Mississauga's position is similar to Toronto's, where council last month voted to impose new taxes on land transfers and vehicle registrations to cope with a fiscal crisis after draining the city's reserves. Toronto has a $7 billion infrastructure deficit but is already heavily in debt. Water and sewer replacement alone will cost $2 billion.
Mayor Hazel McCallion plans to use the new surcharge as a launching pad for her own national campaign – dubbed Cities NOW! – to pressure Ottawa to use its huge surplus to help urban centres tackle the infrastructure mess.We'll hear from the Conservatives about the billions they're handing out to Ontario presently, in the news yesterday and said to be $7.9 billion. What's that figure for Toronto's outstanding infrastructure deficit? Oh, 7 billion. Well, I'm sure 7.9 for the entire province will just about cover us. Digesting these figures underscores just how foolhardy GST and minuscule income tax cuts are to property owners in Canada who are getting reamed with property tax increases in order to make up the lost revenue.
"I am in a fighting mood," McCallion said after the vote was passed. "We are in a fighting mood."
She said Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's mini-budget, which ignored urban needs in favour of cuts in the GST and income tax, left Mississauga with no choice but to impose a levy that could be collected annually for the next 20 years.
"It's a sham," McCallion said, slamming the tax cuts as a cynical attempt to gain re-election.
"Is the federal government going to wait for more bridges to fall down?" she said, citing the results of neglect in the recent collapses of bridges in Quebec and Minnesota.