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Ninth Consecutive Tax Freeze in 2017

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With Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens promoting a ninth consecutive tax freeze in 2017, it’s instructive to make a comparison to Toronto, Ontario’s biggest city

Toronto City Council recently voted 32-10 to back a push by Mayor John Tory to raise property taxes by no more than inflation, which is currently at two percent. All city departments and agencies have been directed to find 2.6% worth of reductions in next year’s budget. Comparatively speaking, Windsor City Council asked its departments to submit budgets with 10% reductions across the board. Tory has left the door open to consider a series of revenue enhancers identified by a consultant in June, which would channel money to the municipality through a hotel tax, a parking tax, a sales tax, a beverage tax and a development tax.

Toronto already draws funding from a lucrative and controversial land transfer tax. Windsor’s tax critics have lampooned the city for increasing Transit Windsor fares, and money grabs from EnWin Utilities through annual $4-million dividends from energy ratepayers, sky high sewer surcharge fees and a fixed water meter fee of over $200 a year.

Meanwhile, critics of Council have noted that services are suffering because of the tax freeze obsession that does not exist anywhere else in Ontario, including Toronto. For instance, the Council majority recently rejected a bid to provide periodic bulk garbage pick-up. The city has also eliminated parking lot maintenance and 2017 parks department budget trimming includes cutting gardening service at refurbished Bert Weeks Garden and Willistead Park.

The leadership of the Wyandotte Town Centre BIA has been revamped with the appointment of a new Chairperson in Tamara Kowalska and Interim Co-ordinator Sami Mazloum. Kowalska, the Executive Director of the Windsor Youth Centre at 1247 Wyandotte Street East, indicates the first task for her and Mazloum is to recruit more members to the board of the BIA, which is bounded by Gladstone Avenue on the east and McDougall Street on the west. Mazloum, whose father is Lebanese, has been canvassing the businesses within the BIA and hopes that some members will join the executive at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) early in the new year. “It’s always nice to communicate in a language you feel more comfortable with,” says Kowalski, noting that several businesses in the district have Lebanese-speaking owners/operators.

Mazloum says he has discovered a real ethnic mix in the street’s proprietorship, including Iraqi, African and Mexican. Mazloum is working on a six month contract that started on October 1. He is Communications Co-ordinator of the Cross-Border Institute at the University of Windsor, and previously worked in the constituency office of former Liberal MPP Teresa Piruzza. He will have the opportunity to apply for the BIA job full-time next spring. City Councillors Rino Bortolin and Chris Holt sit on the board.

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