Municipal Taxes – Page
Posted by Dr. Hamdy El-Rayes, August 19, 2018
In the past 15 years, policies and practices of the Vancouver City council left us with the current housing crisis. In addition to its bias for developers at the expense of the residents, the city took advantage of the housing sale bonanza overseas by charging more than 37% of the cost of new housing in taxes, construction fees, etc. The city is supposed to be offering a service not acting like a private for-profit business monopoly, charging for its services without limits. How could we have affordable housing with these outrageous taxes? The same can be said about the business tax burden. The rise in taxes and the skyrocketing prices of real estate forced many old small businesses to close their doors. The outgoing council has ruined the city’s economy, its cultural heritage, and the quality of life of its residents.
As a councilor, I would request:
- Review the municipal taxes for businesses and homes to make it affordable for small businesses and local residents to survive.
- Establish a sliding scale for municipal taxes for foreign investments in uninhabited homes used to park their money and do not pay provincial or federal taxes for their global income.
- Review the building permits fees (currently at more than 37% of construction costs) and lower them to encourage building affordable housing especially for rental housing and for first-time homebuyers.
- Review the City current operational costs and those of Metro Vancouver and Translink to cut the excesses in their expenditures and their upper management compensations.
Every once and a while we read in the newspapers about outrageous expenditure by the City Council (giving themselves huge raises, going on fancy trips to seek knowledge available on the internet, etc.). We also hear in the news about excessive expenses in the organizations that offer services including Metro Vancouver and Translink.
Serving the community as an elected politician should be altruistic work to give, not a way to seek more income or privileges.
In many instances, some board members of Metro Vancouver (elected councilors and mayors) were spending excessively of the budget of Metro Vancouver on travel expenses or giving themselves undeserved pensions as recently as three months ago.
Board of Directors of Metro Vancouver should be qualified personnel and just being elected does not automatically qualify the politicians to run the board because Metro Vancouver is a complex engineering company. The lack of knowledge and expertise of the board of directors exposes taxpayers money to potential abuse.
Being an elected official does not make you suddenly an expert on something you lack the qualifications or professional experience to perform. For this reason, management in these service organization has an easy task to run their operations the way they like, by just keep the board of directors happy (with more perks and privileges). This seemed to any observer like a quid pro quo. To remove doubts about abuses of their power as board members, either we have independently qualified Board members from professionals in Vancouver be accountable to the elected councils, or have the remunerations of the elected political board members be paid directly by their own municipalities as part of their job.
We need to freeze the taxes in Vancouver until we examine the tax structure, lower the city expenses, and give a tax break to alleviate the burden on Vancouver residents, small businesses, rental property owners, and homeowners in Vancouver. This may encourage landlords to voluntarily give a break to their tenants as they used to do in the past by voluntarily not increasing the rent annually as determined by the law.