NEW DEAL FOR CITIES
All citizens have a stake in the future of this City. Therefore all discussions around a potential new financial framework and long term infrastructure plan must be placed in a context that focuses the discussion on our future.
The current structure in which a city operates takes a certain amount of control out of its hands. For a civic government to truly be accountable for the services it delivers it must have the ability to make decisions that will allow it to satisfy the needs of citizens. A city’s financial means must be more in its control, and must be more sustainable and certain over time.
The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce believes that the City of Winnipeg needs a new deal.
The over-riding perspective that drives our thinking, and is the basis upon which we make our recommendations, is the commitment to a long- term approach to planning, financing, and investing. The fundamental shift in the taxation structure for our City must fit to the long term vision and strategy that we hold for our community. This is the perspective that must drive our decision-making and this is the perspective that provides a basis for our recommendations.
Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce Recommendations:
- Consider any tax shift or infrastructure plan as part of a comprehensive Capital Region strategy, addressing tax equity, economic development, planning co-ordination and strategic regional infrastructure investment.
- Implement a new tax structure on a revenue-neutral basis.
- Implement a policy of tax caps.
- Cap civic expenditures (excluding infrastructure repairs/maintenance and capital expenditures) at the current level and extend efficiency assurance measures to include the provincial government.
- Reduce property taxes for residential properties and urge the Province to eliminate the school portion of residential and commercial property taxes over five years.
- Eliminate the business and amusement taxes.
- Reduce transit fares for social and environmental reasons, but determine the level of reduction only after developing a long-term transit strategy, based on a fundamental review of operations and priorities (cost-benefit analysis, future trends and market evaluation).
- Implement a municipal sales tax in the Capital Region to be collected by the provincial government. Cap the level through legislation, which would allow an increase only by referendum.
- Implement proposed provincial revenue-sharing formula.
- Increase frontage levies, but cap the rate and phase-in for business.
- Introduce a garbage collection fee, a tax on liquor sales, city fuel tax (in conjunction with a 10-year infrastructure strategy) and possibly a hotel tax dedicated to tourism investment (only after consultation with the industry).
- Develop a 10-year infrastructure strategy that identifies projects and funding, and takes into account: decision timelines of other levels of government, an investment plan that captures and commits future fiscal room and investment-leveraging opportunities.
Adopted by the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce board of directors, December 2003