New taxes should wait until next election: poll
A new poll released Thursday suggests Torontonians believe proposed city taxes should not be implemented until they are debated during the 2010 municipal election.
The survey was conducted by The Environics Research Group Ltd for a number of interest groups including the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, the Motion Picture Theatre Association of Canada and the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association.
Survey results showed:
- 69 per cent said they want open debate ahead of the next election on the new taxes.
- 50 per cent said city hall has no authorization to go ahead with the taxes before the election.
- 69 per cent said if the province doesn't provide funding, they want the city to cut expenditures rather than impose new taxes.
- 86 per cent who voted for Miller say there was little to no discussion of new taxes in the 2006 election.
- 39 per cent of Miller supporters say they would be less likely to support a candidate in favour of the proposed taxes.
City hall is proposing eight new taxes including a $60 vehicle-registration tax, a 1.5 per cent land transfer tax on the sale of residential and commercial property, a 5 per cent tax on alcohol served and sold at various establishments and a tax on billboards.
The new property tax alone is expected to generate $300 million for the cash-strapped city.
Members of the various interest groups are concerned the new taxes will be pushed through despite strong opposition from citizens and business owners.
"These are very damning numbers for a mayor who campaigned on a promise of a more open system at city hall," CFIB Ontario Vice-President Judith Andrew said in a release.
"He didn't run on a platform of imposing a raft of new taxes on the city but now that he's been elected, David Miller has decided that is what the people of Toronto supported in voting for him. The people of Toronto are feeling duped and ill-served by their mayor."
Poll results also suggest citizens believe revenue from the new taxes will not be handled in a way that would benefit taxpayers.
Fifty-three per cent of respondents believe there will be no improvement in municipal services despite increased tax revenue, and 72 per cent say the new taxes will not solve Toronto's fiscal woes.
"Of course the Mayor himself continues to claim the provincial government should also be sending the City more money because provincial downloading has put too much pressure on the City's budget," Bill Davis, Director of Government Relations for Toronto Automobile Dealers' Association, said in a release.
"There is a case to be made for re-aligning services and uploading some costs back onto the province, but the City is defeating its own campaign by refusing to seriously look at spending cuts and by using its new powers to raise taxes. The City is making it very easy for the Provincial government to ignore the whole re-alignment issue."
Miller said last month the proposed taxes will be funneled into essential city services.
"We need the money to invest in services that Torontonians want in Toronto. Torontonians are overwhelmingly saying they are prepared to do it so long as they see if being invested in their neighbourhood in things they need," Miller said.
The Environics poll was conducted between June 28 and 30, 2007 by telephone. It involved 500 Toronto residents 18 years of age or older and is considered accurate to within +/- 4.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20.