Think City

Think City

November 25, 2010 09:00 ET

Think City: Municipal Property Taxes Not Working

New Report Proposes Solutions for BC's Local Governments to Tackle Mounting Financial Pressures

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Nov. 25, 2010) - Think City today released a comprehensive report on the financial pressures facing local governments in BC. The report titled "Local Prosperity: Options for Municipal Revenue Growth in British Columbia" exposes significant problems with the existing system of financing local governments and proposes a range of revenue generating alternatives.

"Our cities, towns, villages and regional districts are in trouble, and the present model of local government financing simply doesn't work – and indeed, it can't work," says Simon Fraser University Professor of Public Policy and report co-author Doug McArthur. "Local governments are forced to depend on property taxes which can't alone finance ever-growing municipal costs, as other levels of government offload responsibilities and many communities lose their industrial tax base."

"The challenges facing all local governments in BC are interconnected – symptoms of an unsustainable system of municipal financing," said co-author and Think City board member James Fletcher. "In a survey of mayors, councilors and senior staff in local government across BC, we found many municipalities struggling to adapt to changing economic conditions, an aging infrastructure that is becoming more costly to operate and maintain, escalating costs in housing, transportation and other areas beyond their control, and a residential and business tax base unable to sustain the accelerating property tax increases of the past decade."

"While Metro Vancouver mayors argue about how to pay for future transportation projects, numerous small towns are coping with shrinking revenues as a result of a declining forestry sector," said Fletcher. "Major industries are mounting tax revolts, many small businesses are struggling, and hard-pressed homeowners are facing double-digit increases in property taxes and user charges."

"The system needs a major overhaul – it must be both fairer and more effective at raising the revenues local governments need," said McArthur. "All parties involved must get engaged now to work toward creating a new sustainable financing system for local governments in British Columbia."

Visit to download the full report.

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