The kind of coverage we need more of: Kelly Sinoski and Rob Shaw’s backgrounder in The Sun on TransLink:
I’ll quote more later, but helpfully they have included a timeline (unfortunately not in the online story). What jumped out for me? The number of times the local politicians have raised property taxes.
Ironic in two respects: the first chair George Puil sold the idea of TransLink to municipal leaders on the premise that it would avoid property tax increases in the future. And secondly, the Province is determined that they do just the opposite, and argues that there is lots of tax room there to do so, particularly since the hospital levy was largely removed. Indeed, the referendum may be just a clever device to force property-tax hikes on the region by limiting the options available for funding or as the source of last resource in the event of the referendum’s failure.
So, for the record, here are the points when property tax has been raised, in bold:
1999: TransLink is created by the NDP government, which allows the transportation authority to generate funds through a three-percent property tax as well as a share of the fuel tax, parking sales tax and transit fares. …
Nov 2001: TransLink approves $80 million in higher fares and, for the first time, a property tax hike to fund transit. …
2003: TransLink proposes more fare hikes (six percent), tax increase on paid parking (21 percent), another property tax increase ($61 per average home) and a tripling of the sales tax on paid parking (not pursued).
2005: TransLink raises parking tax and property tax again as it wrestles with paying billions for four big projects …
2007: TransLink receives another three cents per litre on the gas tax, brining it to 15 cents, from the province on the condition it raise property taxes for transit. …
2008: TransLink raises property taxes to cover the parking site tax that the province had cancelled a year earlier.
2011: Province approves another two-cent gas tax hike, brining it to 17 cents per litre, to help TransLink pay its $400-million share of the Evergreen Line. Mayors also propose a vehicle levy or road/bridge tolling again, with a backup plan that if those fail to gain support they will impose a two-year property tax increase of $23 per home.
2012: Mayors ask the province for road/bridge tolling, vehicle levy or a regional carbon tax for transit, but all are rejected. In response, mayors nix a backup plan to raise property taxes.
My hunch: regardless of whatever else the Province accepts as an option (in same issue of The Sun: “Province resistant to Metro Vancouver road pricing policy“), property tax will be on the table, leading to more regional divisiveness.