CFBB OPINION:   Avoid any Sister City Agreements

For the Mayors’ staff not to communicate properly with the rest of Council is unacceptable.   The December 20th press release was a clear contravention to Council’s resolution and could very well be in violation of the City’s own Code of Conduct.  Mayor Jeffrey and Councillor Medeiros are the architects of this controversy and should make a formal apology to Brampton’s Tamil community for misleading  them to think a Sister City agreement was forthcoming.  Just like the recent Sister City Agreement with the Town of Ribeira Grande , Sao Miguel, Portugal,   CFBB feels that there has been little evidence over the years of any real economic benefit to the City of Brampton with these types of arrangements.  In our opinion, these politically motivated sister city agreements are just vote pandering and an excuse for Council members to take junkets at the taxpayers’ expense.  In our opinion, the best policy moving forward should be to avoid any new sister city agreements entirely.   Don’t we have more important matters for our Mayor and Council to focus their attention on?

Chris Bejnar and Doug Bryden

Co-Chairs CFBB

CFFB Opinion – A “confusing” Sister City Agreement with Vavuniya , Sri Lanka.

It looks like Professionalism, Accountability and Transparency might have been good New Year’s resolutions that should have been made by our Mayor and her staff for 2017.

In the attached Media Release issued by Mayor Jeffrey and Councillor Medeiros dated December 20, 2016, (since removed from the city’s website), the Mayor officially extended an official invitation to His Excellency C.V. Wigneswaran, Chief Minister, Northern Province, Sri Lanka, to visit Brampton to sign a “Sister City” agreement with Vavuniya, a city in Sri Lanka with approximately 70,000 residents. She did so without an approval by Council. Now, given the backlash, she has had to backtrack, resulting in considerable embarrassment to herself and the City.

Why does the City not have an established policy on not only what qualifications would be necessary to consider a potential Sister City relationship, but what are the economic and social benefits that would result from that relationship? To date, sister/friendship agreements from the past have yet to show any measurable economic benefits to our city. Why spend staff’s and Council’s time on such wasteful initiatives?

This matter surely does not rank very high on the list of important matters to spend precious time and energy on, given the significant outstanding issues to which the Mayor should be turning her attention.

Link to December 7th, 2016 Economic Development meeting minutes: 

http://www.brampton.ca/EN/City-Hall/meetings-agendas/Economic%20Development%20Committee/20161207edmn.pdf

Doug Bryden and Chris Bejnar

Co-Chairs CFBB

January 11, 2017

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Delegation Budget Comments – Chris Bejnar – CFBB Co-Chair

November 28, 2016

Good evening everyone,

My delegation tonight will focus on two important factors that impact the amount we have to pay on our residential property tax bill, unregistered secondary units and the unfair property tax levy for Healthcare.

Unregistered Secondary Units

We believe that secondary units are an important form of affordable housing that is made available to thousands of Brampton residents.  Without them many would not know what to do or where to go. As Brampton is one of Canada’s fastest growing cities and expecting another 290,000 residents in the next 25 years, secondary units are, and will continue to be an important and necessary form of housing in this city.

I also believe that everyone’s goal is to ensure that these units are all properly registered, and most importantly offer a safe and hospitable living environment our residents.

From the much referenced McCarter report, we know that a growing population directly impacts the operational expenses of the city. We also have learned from this report that only 23% of our property tax revenue comes from the commercial industrial base and a significant 77% is made up solely from residential property taxes. It’s encouraging that Council this year has moved to boost the commercial industrial base to a goal of 40%, however this will take many years if not a decades to achieve. We will still have the majority of our revenue come from the residential property tax base for many more years to come.

With Council looking at approving a tax increase of 3.6% in 2017, this is more than double the forecasted Canadian average inflation rate of 1.45% for 2016.

We all understand that these tax increases are to get this city back on track with many priorities like maintaining service levels, investing in infrastructure repair and replacement, as well as, enhancing core services with a focus on transit. I would imagine that these initiatives are for ALL residents, and not just the property taxpayers of the city.

So if Brampton’s main revenue source is primarily from residential property taxes,   I think we can all agree that this makes our City more vulnerable to the effects of having a significant population living in unregistered residential secondary units. Do we really know the numbers?

What we do know is that a landlord is in the rental business. Just like Peel Housing or private developers are also in the rental business, they are mandated to design, build and maintain a safe and clean living environment for their tenants. I’m sure we can spend a good hour or so going over all the by-laws and building code standards and permits that are required for constructing residential homes in this city.  By collecting rent, you now have an income property, a property that should be accessed at a higher rate by mpac. An income property that benefits the landlord financially with lower mortgage payments or extra monthly income.

By not registering their unit or reporting their rental income, the private landlords are not contributing their share to the delivery of education, city services, and infrastructure costs in this city. It is because they are taxed in exactly the same way as the property tax taxpayer that does not have a secondary unit in their home.  Is that really a fair system? Is it a sustainable system for the long term?

I believe that part of our problem is that we’ve allowed this issue to go on for so long investors are not treating the registration process seriously. By-Law enforcement has not kept pace or structured their department to look for violations during evening and weekends. We need to start realizing that the situation will only get worse, the anger of taxpayers will only become stronger and the future delivery of city services will be challenged.

So how can the taxpayers and citizen groups of this City assist Council for the advocacy of a revamped property tax system to organizations such as mpac and AMO. After all, it was the Province who passed Bill 140 banning Municipalities from making secondary units illegal. Passing a bill without offering any assistance to the municipalities for funding, sharing of information or new legal powers. It has left municipalities that receive a large percentage of residential tax revenue such as Brampton at a real disadvantage. It has pitted neighbours against each other, created an unfair tax burden on the majority of households, will affect the quality of delivered services and we will see above inflation tax increases for the foreseeable future. We need the investors and landlords in this city to finally realize that they contributing significantly to our higher property taxes. We need the landlords and investors of this city to realize that they need to pay their fair share to the future prosperity of Brampton.

Tax Levies

We’ve had an unfair tax levy put onto the property tax payers of the city to fund Phase 1 of the new Peel Memorial Healthcare facility in Brampton. A levy that only applies to the property owners in the city, yet allows anyone who lives here as a resident to benefit. In the past, the responsibility for building healthcare facilities has been the responsibility of the province, placing such facilities in areas of high growth and demand.

So why is it that the taxpayers of Toronto did not require a property tax levy for William Osler’s Etobicoke General Hospital redevelopment that’s currently underway, yet Brampton taxpayers did?

According to a statement from William Osler, the $330 million contract price will involve the construction of a new four-storey tower, will add approximately 250,000 square feet of space to the existing facility and house the services most urgently needed by the Etobicoke community.

Are we supposed to be grateful to the Province for its recent announcement to finally open all 608 beds at Brampton Civic?   A delay that affected the quality of our healthcare and labelled Brampton as one of the lowest ranked major cities for healthcare in the country?

What will the purchasing power of our hard earned tax dollars be in 8-10 years for the remaining $20 million of the $60 million tax levy when required?

How about the tens of millions of precious tax dollars that will be wasted because of the decision to build Peel Memorial as a multi-phase project? This should have been planned as a full service hospital right from the beginning based on many years of research.

We need this Council to aggressively call out the province for the poor planning of healthcare in Brampton and to immediately call on the Province to begin the RFP process for a fully funded Phase 2 of Peel Memorial that will include a second ER and a minimum of 200+ in-patient beds. It’s about time we start to become a bit more aggressive with this government or any future provincial government for the needs of our diverse, dynamic and growing city. We are the 9th largest city in Canada and 3rd largest city in the GTHA. We have seen growth that is unmatched by any other Top 10 city. The citizens of Brampton generate hundreds of millions of tax revenues to both the Provincial and Federal governments. So why do we continue to graciously accept inadequate funding for transit, healthcare and infrastructure that does not allow for this city to properly compete for investment dollars with our neighbouring municipalities. We can’t afford to keep funding these Provincial responsibilities with tax levies onto the property tax payers of this city.

Thank you

Chris Bejnar Co-Chair CFBB

 

Delegation Budget Comments – J. D. Bryden – CFBB Co-Chair

November 28, 2016

A leadership attribute is to lead by example, isn’t it? We were all very supportive when Mayor Jeffrey, as one of her first initiatives as Mayor, reduced her very generous salary as Mayor by $50,000, from one of the highest in Canada down to a salary range in line with a Provincial cabinet minister in Ontario. With the recent restructuring at City Hall and terminations of many senior staff and managers, how can we justify the staff complement currently in the Mayor’s office? I believe our previous Mayor had a staff complement of two – currently there are six. The salary for the Mayor’s staff is around $600,000 annually. How can this level be justified to the taxpayers of this City when other departments have recently seen significant cutbacks and there is a proposed City portion tax increase of 3.6% on the table, double the current inflation rate average of 1.45%?

We believe Council too must share in the belt tightening measures. With monthly car allowances significantly above those in the private sector, and benefits the envy of most, can we get a commitment during the budget process that these levels will receive serious debate?

How much has it cost the taxpayers of this City to defend the Inzola lawsuit against the City over the past several years? How will the budget be impacted if the City cannot defend its position? In light of all the damaging articles which have been published in the media over the past year and even today, will the taxpayer be on the hook if the City fails to defend its position? Has there been any budget provision for this potential exposure?

Thank you for the opportunity to delegate.

Doug Bryden –