I am responding to a letter to the newspaper regarding the fact that Mayor Green and I should be ashamed for suggesting that the City look at the idea of a fuel tax to help offset the cost of increased road repairs.
Mayor Green has not stated publicly her position regarding a local gas tax so there is no need to go after her. In order to deal with our crumbling roads, I have floated the idea of a fuel consumption tax that could offset or replace the road rehabilitation levy on your property taxes. A dedicated fuel tax would be deposited in a specific fund created by a bylaw for road repairs only. A local tax of 2 cents a litre would raise between $3.5 and $4 million dollars a year for local road repairs and is small compared to the 37 cents a litre or well over $50 million the City residents pay to senior governments for gas taxes each year.
Getting community feedback regarding a major policy shift on taxation is very important to me. Do local residents favor paying for road repairs by taxing property owners as we do now or do they favor a user pay system? Is it fair that visitors and non residents who use our roads, many on a daily basis but pay no taxes for road repairs? Yet local residents are expected to pick up the tab. An idea like this deserves broad community discussion and that is what this is all about. This is not about what I want but its about what the taxpayers of the community want and how they feel regarding how we fund our road repairs.
The author of the letter also goes on about municipal debt and I agree. I am committed to being reasonable about reducing expenditures at City Hall. The fact remains however that we need to put more money into our road budget.
I could have said nothing about this and played it politically safe but that was not what I was elected to do. If I did nothing regarding the deteriorating conditions of our roads, was not concerned about our rising debt and did not think outside the box by looking at a number of ways that we could raise revenue in a fair manner for road repairs I would feel ashamed but I have worked hard looking for solutions.