Chambers' recommendations - Click here
New article in The Spec. Click here
"One of the most difficult and contentious issues for Hamilton to deal with." That's how City Manager Chris Murray once described the looming issue of Area Rating- and he is probably right. Hitting residents where it hurts- residential taxes- the area rating issue can be explosive and serve up the next chapter of twists, turns, hills and valleys as we journey into the delicate and nuanced area of deciding how services and taxes inter-relate, and who pays for what.
Already, there is a mini drama unfolding. You may recall that a citizen's forum was commissioned to explore the issue of area rating and return with a report/recommendations. The report returned some suggested changes that could result in significant tax increase to the sub-burbs. "Significant tax increase" is the first of many phrases that are likely to inflame discussions.
Enter a coalition of the Chambers of Commerce- Hamilton, Stoney Creek and Flamborough. Led with a presentation by John Dolbec, a new model and approach is tabled. The Chambers' model was considered by the Citizen's forum, but rejected as it was deemed to not be "city building in the end". At its kernel, the model calls for ratepayers to only pay for the services they use. City Treasurer Roberto Rossini characterizes it as "vague" and signals that it would take six months to study. Nonetheless, council votes to serve it up to Rossini and staff, to study and report back on. Rossini and staff will be busy, we're sure.
And, as to be expected, there are already some councillors who support examining the Chambers' proposal, while others maintain that it undermines the work of the citizen's forum and can result in significant delays.
As a side note, John Dolbec is moving on to a new position as President and CEO of Trans Hub Ontario. We wish John well- he has always been very responsive to The Hamiltonian. It seems he knows how to go out with a bang ;-).
So, what do you think? Should be be considering the Chambers' proposal, even though ti was rejected by the Citizen's Forum?
Update: John Dolbec's email to The Mayor, Councillors and others:
" Your Worship & All Councillors (& others):
Thank you last night for allowing our joint Chamber delegation to present our concerns with respect to the Citizen's Forum Report.
As we mentioned last night, our focus was on where we differed from their recommendations; but they have have indeed done good work, and while we have fundamental differences of view, we may not be as far apart in terms of the details as it may seem at first glance.
In any event, while we have circulated that attached documents to previous Council, attached as a reminder, are the final version of our joint official public policy position statements on these issues that were issued in 2009 & 2010 respectively.
Our joint position has remained fundamentally unchanged from these docs.
If you do indeed elect to proceed with active consideration of our proposals (I.e. a "Service Rating" system); should you desire it, we will be delighted to place our collective resources at the City's disposal to help flesh the badly needed details; e.g. our volunteer task force has already collectively invested well in excess of 2,000 volunteer man-hours looking at this matter over the last 2 years.
This is a valuable resource that we think can help you look more closely at these important maters.
Further, we have the added resources of our approximately collective 2,700 individual members to potentially also bring to the table as may be required to assist.
Again thank you for your time & attention to this important matter - it is absolutely crucial, as we mentioned last night, that we, as a City, take the time to get this right!
John Dolbec, Chief Executive Officer
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