Modified and corrected March 5, 2013
Thanks to Frances Bula we can read the letter the Mayor’s Council sent to Minister Mary Polak. You will recall no doubt that this issue got covered at length here recently.
I thinks it is worth quoting the very long title that Frances uses.
Frustrated mayors make plans to roll back planned property-tax increase of next two years, which will remove $30 million a year from the system
That actually is not in the letter itself. I had to read it several times. The reference is on page 2 under the heading The Funding and points out that the $30m a year was a temporary increase conditional upon a new funding source being made available. They had only approved property tax increases for 2013 and 2014 on the understanding that the province would be implementing the new funding source. It would take time to get the new funding in place: they had expected the new funding source to be identified and agreed before the 2013 property tax increase was applied. The province has clearly failed to implement its side of the bargain. The $30m was only ever going to be collected in 2103 and 2014 because, had the province lived up to its own commitments, new funding ought to have been in place for 2015.
updated material is indented below
In a “just-released notice from TransLink” (which I got from Price Tags)
The Mayors’ Council has requested the removal of the time-limited property tax from the 2013 Base Plan
Translink is now preparing a Supplemental Plan for the Mayors’ approval before May 1
What the Mayors are doing is in their letter to the Minister is what the Minister’s civil servants ought to have been doing – and probably were. The letter sets out an accurate account of the present arrangements – all of which have been put into place by the Ministry of Transportation. Except for the one thing the Mayors are allowed to do – approve funding from property tax. So they did that but only in a very limited fashion. Someone should have been telling Mary Polak – before she made her recent pronouncements – of the inevitable consequences of her inaction. She either wasn’t listening or did not care. Which is pretty much the conclusion I reached last time I wrote about this.
What has changed is that the Mayors are no longer “playing along”. The ball is firmly in the other court – because that is the way the province set up the rules in the first place. They can’t do the things she is telling them that they must do because they do not have the legal authority or resources to do so. What they have done is tell Translink to prepare a “Supplemental Plan” for their approval, to remove the temporary funding.
The incoming government is either going to have to scramble something together to make the current arrangements work or announce yet another temporary arrangement while new ones are put in place. But in a government that is trying to sign long term deals with all sorts of people to tie the hands of future administrations there is the distinct possibility of an even sillier announcement – and, on current precedents, maybe Christy herself will be stepping in. The frankly incompetent performance of the current Minister would seem to require that. Unfortunately it is more likely that all that will happen is yet more bluster from a government that is in deep trouble. And for whom Translink funding is the least of their worries.