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Growing the tax base


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#1 Chris J

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Posted 31 December 2009 - 12:27 PM

so, the Community Development Public Advisory Committee has it's first referral item from the CD standing committee.
These are the instructions we've received:
"After discussing each of the advisory committee’s proposed topics it was decided that the standing committee would request that Council approve the topic of revenue generating ideas for the City: How do we grow and where? Business generates a tax base to make cities more sustainable. How do we maximize the status of Victoria being the capital? How do you grow the tax base? This would ensure that the City is resilient and sustainable."

I'm baffled as to why they thought the CDPAC would be helpful on this. this is our terms of reference:

  • Arts & culture policies, programs and facilities.
  • Policies and programs aimed at developing community capacity.
  • Economic development policies and initiatives.
  • Parks & Recreation facilities, programs and services.
  • Policies and programs to support affordable housing development.
  • Policies to support community social service delivery.
  • Policies to support community livability, particularly Downtown.
At the last meeting (which I missed), our committee decided it had expertise that would make us able best advise on the following topics:
"The Committee has chosen the following topics for discussion:
Arts and Culture initiatives
Housing and Homelessness
Community Capacity building
The Official Community Plan and its relationship to community capacity
The concept of Transition Town"

we were then advised by CD standing committee that:
"Many of the suggested topics are already being examined at other levels. For example, the OCP is being discussed in two other committees. Community Capacity building also has a CAC involved. It was thought that updates for both of these items could be forwarded regularly to the CDPAC for information.
There is a need to clarify the process of how items are referred to the committees: the standing committee can refer items to the advisory committee, Council can refer to the advisory committee and the advisory committee can request to work on items but Council is ultimately in control of what the committees work on."

This will no doubt be a matter of discussion at our January meeting. Community Capacity is after all on on terms of reference, so I think we can be excused for thinking that we would be discussing it.

Anyway, regardless of these minor issues, we have quite the task ahead of us. Growing the tax base is not my area of expertise, but I have been doing some research and I see why the council is asking for help wherever they can find it. Along the same lines, I'm doing my own 'crowdsourcing' on this. So the question for this thread (I've you're still reading) is what revenue generating ideas might you suggest? Is it a matter of generating new revenue, or should council just be trying to do more with less?
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#2 G-Man

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Posted 31 December 2009 - 02:34 PM

Increase density of zonings, provide benefits for businesses or corporations to relocate to Victoria, Amalgamation, provide easier development process for developers, institute job training for underemployed or unemployed, allow the vendors in Cook Street to stay and up their taxes.

#3 davek

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Posted 31 December 2009 - 03:08 PM

... Is it a matter of generating new revenue, or should council just be trying to do more with less?


Council should be trying to do less with less. Victoria is tragically over-governed. Councillors may also benefit from learning about the Laffer Curve.

To improve the City's prosperity, there should be a mechanism by which existing neighbourhoods can privatize their governance and service provision. Since new communities can be strata titled, existing communities should also be permitted to do so. Zoning regulation for said communities should be left to the desires of their residents, except for prohibitions on nuisances such as noise, light, etc.

Withdraw from the provision of transit, except for the issuance of "curb rights". If one person wants to pay another person to drive them somewhere in a cab, bus, jeepney, etc, then the city should not interfere. The private sector will quickly provide a robust, nimble system capable of moving people around quickly, cheaply, and conveniently.

Replace the current public school system with one in which parents can choose to send their child to the school they feel best fits their child's needs, and provide an $8,000 maximum tax credit to the family for each child. Better yet, withdraw from the provision of education entirely.

Lots more where that came from...

#4 groundlevel

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Posted 12 January 2010 - 10:53 AM

wow -- strike a public advisory committee for Community Development with very specific terms of reference, ask the committee what areas they want to work on within the terms of reference, and then out of nowhere tell the community development committee to and look for money from the existing tax base as their mandate.

Chris -- can you tell me about the Citizen Advisory Committee for Community Capacity Building? I can't find any reference to it.

I know that the Mayor's office cherry-picked a Citizen's Advisory Committee for the Official Community Plan, they have met 4 times, there are no public meetings, there are no published minutes and they are working on important public policy. The only public disclosure so far has been a news release dated December 16.

I wonder if the Citizen's Advisory committee for Community Capacity is also working in secret?

The Public Advisory Committees like yours were widely advertised -- any citizen could submit their resume, the meetings are public, the minutes are published. And now you're group isn't working on what you signed up to do?

very weird.

As to your "crowdsourcing" question -- you know those neglected, sliding into derelict buildings like Turner's old cafe across from the Jubilee Hospital and the Robin Kimpton property on Yates street (boarded up for years) and Janion Building etc?

Every year they are worth less, so the negligent owners pay less in tax money. Why not have the city tax them MORE every year they are neglected?

#5 Rob Randall

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Posted 12 January 2010 - 11:19 AM

As to your "crowdsourcing" question -- you know those neglected, sliding into derelict buildings like Turner's old cafe across from the Jubilee Hospital and the Robin Kimpton property on Yates street (boarded up for years) and Janion Building etc?

Every year they are worth less, so the negligent owners pay less in tax money. Why not have the city tax them MORE every year they are neglected?


What to do about derelict buildings was one of the things looked at by the Downtown Advisory Committee.

They did a lot of research and were inspired by Winnipeg's example.

The problem is our Community Charter limits our authority to increase taxes like that. Other larger cities have more freedom.

As we learned with the Morley Soda Fountain building, if you bully an owner too much they may threaten to demolish the building instead.

I served a term on the last iteration of the Downtown Advisory Committee before it dissolved in the wake of the governance restructuring.

We found it frustrating because few items were referred to us by Council. Some didn't even know the DAC existed. Few things we produced had much impact.

As for the confusion experienced by current CDPAC members, keep in mind this whole advisory reorganization is experimental and will take a while to find its place.

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#6 Ms. B. Havin

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Posted 12 January 2010 - 08:31 PM

I know that the Mayor's office cherry-picked a Citizen's Advisory Committee for the Official Community Plan, they have met 4 times, there are no public meetings, there are no published minutes and they are working on important public policy. The only public disclosure so far has been a news release dated December 16.


Completely agree. What's happening in the CoV under the guise of governance review (or reform or whatever) stinks. Some democracy this is.
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#7 Chris J

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Posted 03 February 2010 - 12:05 PM

I think the thing is with these referrals that are a bit confusing is that, as Rob mentioned, the complaint from the PACs in the past has been lack of referrals. So the committees were reduced to 5 committees, and we are getting more referrals, even if it pushes the limits of our terms of reference. I think that the idea is, even if we dont thing they are appropriate referrals, we at least are being given something to talk about.
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#8 Mike K.

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#9 AnonAnnie2

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Posted 05 February 2010 - 08:03 AM

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#10 Dennis Carlsen

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Posted 05 February 2010 - 01:17 PM

Outside of government employment the major driver of economic activity in the City is small to medium sized businesses. Economic development is typically focused on supporting the businesses we have which in turn creates a climate for attracting new businesses.
The Chamber of Commerce is undertaking a business retention and expansion report that should be available in the next little while. There is a lot of work that has been done on analyzing the Victoria economy so no need to reinvent the wheel.

#11 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 05 February 2010 - 01:42 PM

Outside of government employment the major driver of economic activity in the City is small to medium sized businesses. Economic development is typically focused on supporting the businesses we have which in turn creates a climate for attracting new businesses.
The Chamber of Commerce is undertaking a business retention and expansion report that should be available in the next little while. There is a lot of work that has been done on analyzing the Victoria economy so no need to reinvent the wheel.


Hi Dennis, welcome to the forum!

#12 G-Man

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Posted 05 February 2010 - 02:20 PM

I know I have said it before but I will say it again. We need to diversify our employment base and while it is fine to have a large proportion of people working in small companies we need a good diversity of large ones too. Right now we have the universities, government and associated crown corps and DND. We need some big private sector employers in the region.

Many companies in the US are having a hard time and a clear signal from the city that they could help them out could entice some people this way.

We are a short boat or plane ride from Seattle and have direct air service to SF. Some action by the city that would give a new private corp relocating to the city a tax holiday for 10 years+ could be enough to get them here.

We have numerous large office projects on hold that could accomodate them should they consider it.

we have a large educated population.

Most people think that Victoria is a pretty nice place to live.

We get less rain than Seattle.

Employees get universal health care.

Despite what people say it is not a truly expensive place to live especially when compared to large US centres.

#13 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 05 February 2010 - 02:28 PM

I know I have said it before but I will say it again. We need to diversify our employment base and while it is fine to have a large proportion of people working in small companies we need a good diversity of large ones too. Right now we have the universities, government and associated crown corps and DND. We need some big private sector employers in the region.

Many companies in the US are having a hard time and a clear signal from the city that they could help them out could entice some people this way.

We are a short boat or plane ride from Seattle and have direct air service to SF. Some action by the city that would give a new private corp relocating to the city a tax holiday for 10 years+ could be enough to get them here.

We have numerous large office projects on hold that could accomodate them should they consider it.

we have a large educated population.

Most people think that Victoria is a pretty nice place to live.

We get less rain than Seattle.

Employees get universal health care.

Despite what people say it is not a truly expensive place to live especially when compared to large US centres.


How do you expect a LARGE US company to relocate here, when many employess that they might want to bring would not be legal to work here? And maybe the ones that were, had specialized jobs and could get work visas etc., might have partners that would not be able to work here? A cross-border relocation of a large company is no easy feat. I don't think I can name an example.

#14 G-Man

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Posted 05 February 2010 - 02:35 PM

These things could be sorted out with enough political will.

If not a relocation from the US then from back east.

#15 Ms. B. Havin

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Posted 05 February 2010 - 03:27 PM

^ Can't be bothered to look it up right now, but there is an increase in people NOT being able to work in US head offices (Google, for example) because they or their spouses can't get work visas, and so the US companies allow them to work from Canada (typically T.O. area). Most examples I've heard of were from immigrants from Commonwealth countries - India in particular for high tech careers - who got jobs after university in the US (or even after university in Waterloo, again, compu-sci), but then couldn't score the US work visa for both themselves and the spouse. Being Commonwealth, they have easier access to Canada, though.

One wonders if that could be exploited on a larger scale, as per G-Man's suggestion. Not sure.

I do think that currently, Victoria is not in a good place going forward. We are hobbled by the twin pressures of (1) being a public sector employer town (whether in education, government, or health) and (2) being Canada's equivalent of Florida (i.e., a retirement mecca, and all that this implies). This does not make for a vibrant economy, irrespective of how many small businesses you throw at it.
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#16 G-Man

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Posted 05 February 2010 - 03:32 PM

Yeah a google canada office would be awesome and with the connection to SF a real bonus. Why not put the offer out there and see if anyone bites. If no one does then we are where we are now. If someone does then the city benefits in the short and long term.

#17 Dennis Carlsen

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Posted 09 February 2010 - 02:13 PM

The City of Victoria doesn't really have the capacity to attract a large employer although there are certainly opportunities at the regional level. These types of businesses need a lot of hand holding and other than what the Chamber of Commerce is doing there really isn't anyone out there promoting Victoria as a place for business (which is why we're known more as a place to retire). As much as Americans like to come and visit, US businesses tend to stay away because they don't understand our tax system and they have no idea where Victoria is.
I know I sound like a right wing think tank but developing the business economy is key because it is an ongoing source of revenue for the city and provides jobs.
If you want to hear from the left side of my brain ask me about what the economy will look like post peak oil and post climate change.

#18 Caramia

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Posted 09 February 2010 - 09:50 PM

Hey Dennis! Awesome to see you finally posting! Welcome to VV!
Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one's mistakes.
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#19 groundlevel

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Posted 10 February 2010 - 09:37 AM

hi Dennis -- would love to hear from the left side of your brain re post peak oil and post climate change.

Personally, I waffle between "oh **** we're screwed" and "aw, we'll be fine -- just colder, poorer, hungrier and more crowded."

what's your take, honestly?

#20 Dennis Carlsen

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Posted 10 February 2010 - 03:32 PM

I'll try to keep my ramble relevant to the thread regarding growing the tax base. Climate change will fundamentally impact where we will live and peak oil will impact what we can afford to consume. Numerous authors and various movements such as Transition Town are saying that we need to move to a minimalist existence based on self reliance. What is not being talked about is the enormous and catastrophic impact this will have on the economy as we know it. Whether you like it or not most people base their values and lifestyle on economic growth. Imagine a Victoria where tourism has dwindled to a trickle, government has been forced to make major reductions in spending and seniors are working in menial jobs in order to stave off poverty. Cheery huh?
Local governments in particular will struggle to deal with the crisis because of the declining tax base and competing demands for action.
The Resilient Communities movement is an interesting approach which is based on marshalling the expertise, the knowledge and the leaders of all stripes within a community and developing a strategy to help make the transition.

 



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