Saturday, June 19, 2010

Cities Need New Revenue Sources

Caught my eye recently:

Montreal has ideas to find more revenue.

Their Finance Committee spent 67 hours meeting with various city agencies working to cut their $400 million budget shortfall, reported the Toronto Star’s Andrew Chung.

Serendipitously, perhaps, while these meetings were going on, $300,000 in extra policing costs ensued when Montreal Canadien fans rioted in the streets. Then, in a moment of enlightenment some bright spark had an idea - make the hockey club play. Ah, pure genius.

Expect feeble excuses from the Hab’s front office like:

The individuals who broke store windows, looted stores and set police cars on fire were hooligans, not Canadien fans.

These hoolifans weren’t even at the game.

Les Canadiens pay more than $8 million in property taxes each year and bring many other economic benefits to the city.

Give me a break please.

Understand this: Municipalities are behind the eight ball. They need new revenue sources. My town, Burlington, got it right earlier this year when they decided to charge residents if firefighters had to attend their car accident. Unfortunately, council backed down.

But I’ve got a few other ideas.

Park Bench Fees

An elderly couple camps out for hours on the bench at my local park. Cute, you say? But this as an opportunity. After all it’s the city’s bench. Slap a fee on these folks. Use that bench in excess of 15 minutes you should pay appropriate user fees.

Street Hockey Permits

I like street hockey; hate it when residents want ball-hockey-playing kids off the road. But, if these kid’s parents had to pay for a street hockey permit the neighbours wouldn’t have grounds to complain and the fees would enrich city coffers. Call this a win win!

Excessive Constituent Calls

Some of you will know I was a councillor once. And, yes, I loved my constituents - all of them; well nearly all of them. But there were a few, a very few, who demanded a lot of my time. Of course, many other constituents never bothered me. Wouldn’t it be fair put in place a charge against constituents who call or e-mail you more than say once a week? All these contacts could be calculated and put on the bothersome constituent’s tax bill as a user fee.

These are but a few ideas. You’ll have some too. Like garage sales. There were 46 advertised in the Burlington Post last Friday. Can you imagine how many “underground” ones were going on? What an opportunity if the city could just get back some revenue….The possibilities are endless.