Jeff McLaren
Working for You

Tax and Revenue

Move to sustainable taxation through tax base expansion and new non-tax revenue streams

Home owners have suffered from alarming tax rate increases that are the result of short-sighted decisions by past city councils. This includes sprawling development and deferring necessary tax increases to future years. We need to commit to smart development and provide an honest picture of taxes and revenue. Honesty is a MUST to keep taxation at sustainable levels while meeting the needs of the community.

As your councillor, I will work to:
  • Encourage smart development on underused or vacant lots along main thoroughfares. This will allow us to expand the tax base while lowering the need for tax rate increases.
  • Seek out new investment in Kingston by attracting new businesses and by welcoming more people to live in our community.
  • Move to site specific development charges and impost fees, rather than our current uniform rate. This will encourage developers to build in the most fiscally sound areas and avoid costly infrastructure spending to the city.
  • Explore new ways to expand services that contribute to city revenue, such as cooperative recycling with other communities and installing solar panels on city buildings.
  • The Problem: taxes are going up too fast read more...

    Kingston's taxes have been going up because of a past council's unthoughtful commitment to no tax increases. One of the results of not raising taxes at the proper time to meet the needs of the city was deferred infrastructure spending. Deferring infrastructure maintenance has exasperated the problem by adding a surcharge that our current generation is forced to pay.

  • The background: poor fiscal foresight

    About 15 years ago the City wisely instituted a policy to insure that there were adequate funds available for infrastructure renewal if expansion proceeded in moderation. This policy stipulated that a 1% increase in taxes be set aside to compound and spread the burden over many years. We have about 10 more years at the current rate to reach sustainable taxation and end the 1% earmark.

    However, after these many years people are feeling the pinch. We need to move more quickly to save up the needed money without increasing the earmarked tax rate by more than 1%.

    To bring taxation to more sustainable levels while meeting the needs of today my solution is: investment in tax base expansion and non-tax revenue strategies to minimize the need for future tax rate raising.

  • Four strategies we can take right now:

    1) Urban intensification: by developing underused or vacant lots along main thoroughfares we can expand the tax base - this puts a downward force on the need to raise the tax rate.

    2) Encouraging people to move to Kingston: with more people in a tax jurisdiction that has intensified (rather than expanded geographically) we spread the tax burden over a larger number of people (when all other things stay the same) - this puts a second downward force on the need to raise the tax rate.

    3) Improve and maximize development charges and impost fees to better reflect the true cost of development. Currently theses charges are based on an average uniform rate. Which means we are overcharging for (good and beneficial) intensive growth and undercharging for (fiscally unsustainable) extensive growth. My change would set up a price structure that makes market forces work in the direction that benefits the whole city while reducing the tax funded subsidy we all pay for development.

    4) Develop and expand other non-tax revenue streams. We should look for and encourage new thinking in ways to expand services that increase city revenue. Four possible solutions: 1) offer snow removal services to Canada Post; 2) expand recycling to other communities so as to lower the per unit cost; 3) expand advertising on city buses and bus shelters; 4) put up solar panels on city buildings.