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Look to Windsor for municipal tax reform

By: Letter to the Editor

 | Jan 15, 2014 - 2:23 PM |
Windsor shows the path that Sudbury refuses to take.

Instead of pushing the easy tax increase button at budget time the way our council does, for the last six years, Windsor has had no tax increase.

What’s even more impressive is that while returning budgets with no increase, Windsor has also reduced its debt from $230 million to $110 million, and increased its reserve from $42 million to $114 million.

They are now embarking on a $1.5 billion infrastructure renewal campaign.

Windsor council is accomplishing this while having the highest unemployment rate in Canada — 10.1 per cent as of last spring — and having been named as one of Canada’s poorest cities, with 40 per cent of residents listed as low income.

So let’s look at how Sudbury and Windsor stack up.

The population in Sudbury is 165,000 and Windsor 210,000. The unemployment rate in Sudbury is 6.9 per cent and Windsor 10.1 per cent. Sudbury’s budget is $501 million and Windsor $319 million.

The 2014 tax increase in Sudbury is 2.9 per cent, and in Windsor zero per cent.

The tax increase from 2008 to 2013 in Sudbury was 21 per cent, and in Windsor zero per cent.

The total reserve in Sudbury is $103 million and in Windsor $114 million.

So did Windsor slash and burn in order to achieve all of this? No.

The mayor and council simply decided to change the way they did business and change the way the city was operated.

Sudbury, on the other hand, has had very good economic times. What did we have to show for it? Yearly tax increases and our council blaming every other level of government for our tax increase because of downloading and cuts to funding.

Well guess what? Every other city in Ontario, including Windsor, has the same realities to deal with, but instead of playing the blame game, they actually do something about it.

If Windsor city council, in the worst economic times in their history, can accomplish the financial realities they have over the past six years, the City of Greater Sudbury council should be deeply ashamed.

For confirmation of this, one need look no further than councillors’ attitude towards the slush funds.

They created the slush funds for their own exclusive use and then decided to increase them from $35,000 a year per councillor, for a total of $420,000, to $50,000 a year per councillor, for a total of $600,000. Guess what? That same year we had a tax increase.

In Windsor they have embraced change while Sudbury council feathers its own nest at the taxpayers’ expense. Do we need a change? Election day is Oct. 27. Make sure to vote.

Yvan Robert
Greater Sudbury

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