Local chambers of commerce say even they don’t know how their proposed pay-for-what-you-get taxation system would work or what services should be included.
But they say all municipal services, including policing and other big-ticket items, should be thrown open for scrutiny.
City staff, however, say they aren’t sure they can do the kind of analysis required, one city councillor admits he finds the concept “head-scratching” and a municipal taxation expert says the idea is “silly and impractical.”
The local chambers say taxes should be calculated based on actual service levels and not on the basis of old municipal boundaries, which is how the current area rating system for taxes works in the city. Council wants the idea examined, a decision that has left a citizens’ committee formed to look into area rating furious at how they have been treated.
“This requires a little more homework and a little more analysis but it will lead to more fairness,” said Hamilton Chamber of Commerce CEO John Dolbec. “It’s not arbitrarily based on previous municipal boundaries that haven’t existed for 10 years.”
But general manager of finance Rob Rossini said he’s unclear how servicing rating could work. “No one else does it that way and there is probably a reason for that. I don’t even know if it’s possible to do this kind of granular analysis we’re being asked for.”
He points out that Hamilton already area rates more than any other single-tier municipality in Ontario.