The politics of delay

News Oct 15, 2009 Ancaster News

We’re not sure whether to congratulate or criticize Mayor Fred Eisenberger on his attempts to delay a final decision on area-rating until after the 2010 municipal election.

On one hand, residents in the former suburban communities –the ones who would be impacted most by the elimination of area rating –would receive an additional grace period by shelving this debate for another year.

On the other hand, the move smacks of political gamesmanship, giving incumbent councillors the advantage of campaigning without the gauntlet of anger over any potential changes to the area-rating system used since amalgamation.

Area-rating is the complex formula that allows wards of the city to be exempt from paying their tax portions on a select few services, if their residents do not directly access that service. Over the past eight years, the number of services eligible for area-rating has been whittled down to include just transportation (HSR), recreation and culture and fire services.

Mayor Eisenberger confirmed this week he will introduce a recommendation to begin a public consultation process to debate the future merits of area-rating. He also proposes to delay a decision on the future of area-rating until after 2010.

“I’m working on a process that would allow a greater degree of discourse that will be critically important,” he said in an interview. “I think it needs input, a greater degree of understanding.”

A decision of this magnitude –which could result in double digit tax increases for some areas of the amalgamated City of Hamilton –deserves to be conducted with intelligent debate and appropriate public input.

Left to the current council, a debate at this time would only result in parochial interests outweighing common sense, and sensitivity to the taxpayers that would potentially be affected.

In devising a plan to deal with this important issue, the mayor is promising “fair, pro-active inclusive citizen engagement process.”

The reality is without area rating, some residents within the vast borders of the city would pay exorbitant taxes for services they don't use or can’t access.

It’s easy to be cynical about any attempts to delay this decision, or see the political motives.

Area-rating will still be up for debate on the campaign trail one year from now, and hopefully candidates in all areas of the city will present ideas and opinions to create a system that is fair and equitable to all taxpayers.

We applaud the mayor for showing leadership and temporarily steering away council from this titanic iceberg. With sincere public input, hopefully a new, refreshed council can plot a course in 2010 that will allow the city to sail past the perils of parochial politics.

The politics of delay

News Oct 15, 2009 Ancaster News

We’re not sure whether to congratulate or criticize Mayor Fred Eisenberger on his attempts to delay a final decision on area-rating until after the 2010 municipal election.

On one hand, residents in the former suburban communities –the ones who would be impacted most by the elimination of area rating –would receive an additional grace period by shelving this debate for another year.

On the other hand, the move smacks of political gamesmanship, giving incumbent councillors the advantage of campaigning without the gauntlet of anger over any potential changes to the area-rating system used since amalgamation.

Area-rating is the complex formula that allows wards of the city to be exempt from paying their tax portions on a select few services, if their residents do not directly access that service. Over the past eight years, the number of services eligible for area-rating has been whittled down to include just transportation (HSR), recreation and culture and fire services.

Mayor Eisenberger confirmed this week he will introduce a recommendation to begin a public consultation process to debate the future merits of area-rating. He also proposes to delay a decision on the future of area-rating until after 2010.

“I’m working on a process that would allow a greater degree of discourse that will be critically important,” he said in an interview. “I think it needs input, a greater degree of understanding.”

A decision of this magnitude –which could result in double digit tax increases for some areas of the amalgamated City of Hamilton –deserves to be conducted with intelligent debate and appropriate public input.

Left to the current council, a debate at this time would only result in parochial interests outweighing common sense, and sensitivity to the taxpayers that would potentially be affected.

In devising a plan to deal with this important issue, the mayor is promising “fair, pro-active inclusive citizen engagement process.”

The reality is without area rating, some residents within the vast borders of the city would pay exorbitant taxes for services they don't use or can’t access.

It’s easy to be cynical about any attempts to delay this decision, or see the political motives.

Area-rating will still be up for debate on the campaign trail one year from now, and hopefully candidates in all areas of the city will present ideas and opinions to create a system that is fair and equitable to all taxpayers.

We applaud the mayor for showing leadership and temporarily steering away council from this titanic iceberg. With sincere public input, hopefully a new, refreshed council can plot a course in 2010 that will allow the city to sail past the perils of parochial politics.

The politics of delay

News Oct 15, 2009 Ancaster News

We’re not sure whether to congratulate or criticize Mayor Fred Eisenberger on his attempts to delay a final decision on area-rating until after the 2010 municipal election.

On one hand, residents in the former suburban communities –the ones who would be impacted most by the elimination of area rating –would receive an additional grace period by shelving this debate for another year.

On the other hand, the move smacks of political gamesmanship, giving incumbent councillors the advantage of campaigning without the gauntlet of anger over any potential changes to the area-rating system used since amalgamation.

Area-rating is the complex formula that allows wards of the city to be exempt from paying their tax portions on a select few services, if their residents do not directly access that service. Over the past eight years, the number of services eligible for area-rating has been whittled down to include just transportation (HSR), recreation and culture and fire services.

Mayor Eisenberger confirmed this week he will introduce a recommendation to begin a public consultation process to debate the future merits of area-rating. He also proposes to delay a decision on the future of area-rating until after 2010.

“I’m working on a process that would allow a greater degree of discourse that will be critically important,” he said in an interview. “I think it needs input, a greater degree of understanding.”

A decision of this magnitude –which could result in double digit tax increases for some areas of the amalgamated City of Hamilton –deserves to be conducted with intelligent debate and appropriate public input.

Left to the current council, a debate at this time would only result in parochial interests outweighing common sense, and sensitivity to the taxpayers that would potentially be affected.

In devising a plan to deal with this important issue, the mayor is promising “fair, pro-active inclusive citizen engagement process.”

The reality is without area rating, some residents within the vast borders of the city would pay exorbitant taxes for services they don't use or can’t access.

It’s easy to be cynical about any attempts to delay this decision, or see the political motives.

Area-rating will still be up for debate on the campaign trail one year from now, and hopefully candidates in all areas of the city will present ideas and opinions to create a system that is fair and equitable to all taxpayers.

We applaud the mayor for showing leadership and temporarily steering away council from this titanic iceberg. With sincere public input, hopefully a new, refreshed council can plot a course in 2010 that will allow the city to sail past the perils of parochial politics.