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Sample essay topic, essay writing: Municipal Government - 1380 words
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.. the steady loss of municipal power and increasing financial constraints. Grants from provincial and federal Governments come with so many strings attached and represent such a large part of municipal budgets that municipalities are becoming puppets in a show run mainly by Provincial Governments." Because Municipal Responsibilities are increasing and provincial transfers have decreased Municipalities across Canada are searching for a new way to generate enough revenue to stay afloat. Over 80% of the revenue generated by Canadian municipalities is through their own sources. Intergovernmental transfers account for 17% of the additional funding, with the provinces contributing 16.6 percent of this and the federal government .04%. Of the 17% of revenue coming from provincial transfers, 85 percent of this money is in the form of conditional grants.
Municipalities have been the victims of a "fiscal squeeze" in the last decade, the result of a decrease in provincial transfers of nearly 10% of their total revenue. These statistics are consistent with that of the city of Brandon as well as the city of Winnipeg (Table I).Under the current situation municipalities who are feeling the financial squeeze have little choice but to place a more heavy reliance on property taxes. "An option for reducing the property tax burden in many provinces is to reduce provincial property taxes. In several, the provincial property tax emerged with the provincialization of school finances. With access to superior alternatives at the provincial level for financing schools, a provincial property tax (at least on residences) could be eliminated without any increase in the overall tax burden even at the provincial government level. (A problem however, is that such a move might imply higher provincial income taxes, a tax about which provincial governments appear particularly sensitive.) Reduction or elimination of provincial property taxes would leave the property tax; a tax well suited for municipal government the domain of municipal government
The municipalities however, would still need to convince their taxpayers that municipal levies are warranted." This is precisely what Glen Murray (Mayor of the City of Winnipeg) is trying to do through the proposed "New Deal" for Winnipeggers. The city of Winnipeg is plagued with a sagging infrastructure and a recurring debt. Currently the city depends to a large degree on provincial funding, and takes a majority of their revenue, as most municipalities do, from property taxes. Under the proposed "new deal", property taxes would be cut in half, and the dependency on direct provincial funding would be eliminated and replaced by provincial sharing of sales and income tax with the city, and an increase in user fees and consumption taxes (Table I & II) . A rise in property tax is inevitable without a look at other possible solutions to the problem.
The new deal proposes a solution to this problem, and with it, local fiscal autonomy would be created. Conditional grants would be eliminated and replaced with own source revenues and tax sharing; leaving more room for the city to spend money on things that it gives priority, instead of being tied up with provincial regulation.In addition to cutting property taxes in half the new deal proposes to "eliminate the business and amusement taxes." The deal has been deemed by Glen Murray as a "tax shift, saying it would reduce the city's reliance on property taxes by moving toward consumption taxes and user fees, which he says allows taxpayers to have a say in what they pay. At the same time, the deal increases the total amount of revenue the city receives, which will allow the city to pay for desperately-needed infrastructure maintenance and repair (table III)." In order for the new deal to go through it will first have to be approved by council and after that, "negotiations would have to take place with both the federal and provincial governments." The federal government under Paul Martin does not appear as though it will be much of a roadblock. Martin has promised a new deal for cities that would provide the municipal governments with a "significant share of gas taxes." This works nicely with Glen Murray's proposed new deal since a good portion of the revenue under the 'new deal' would be dependent on the gas tax. The problem facing the new deal does not lie with the federal government, but rather with its provincial counterparts. Historically there has not been much evidence to show that Provincial governments are very willing to relinquish their control over local fiscal affairs, but pressure from opposition governments, such as the recent liberal proposal for a province wide 'new deal' in Manitoba may cause the current NDP government to consider Glen Murray's proposition. Although the provincial-local fiscal relationship that has evolved over the years has not been one that has moved in the direction of Municipal Fiscal Autonomy, the emergence of new proposals such as Glen Murray's New Deal for Winnipeg gives hope for movement in that direction.
Municipalities have become more and more frustrated by the provincial strangle hold that has been placed on them over the years, and they are beginning to demand change. This need for change is rapidly being recognized by all levels of government, and promises and ideas for reform are materializing. This reform will not only provide for local fiscal autonomy it will provide for prosperous communities, and a higher quality of life because people will have invested in their city.Bibliography Warren Magnusson and Andrew Sancton, City Politics in Canada, University of Toronto Press, 1983. C. Richard Tindal and Susan Nobes Tindal, Local Government in Canada, 5th Edition, Scarborough, Nelson Thomson Learning, 2000.Ian MacFee Rogers, Municipal Councillors' Handbook, Sixth Edition, Carswell Publishing, 1993Jack Masson, Edward C. Lesage Jr., Alberta's Local Governments: Politics and Democracy, University of Alberta Press, Edmonton, AB., 1994,Melville L.
McMillan, Municipal Relations with the Federal and Provincial Government, a Fiscal Perspective: http://www.vrm.ca/documents/McMillan.pdfCity Of Brandon: http://www.brandon.ca/city%20information/finances% 20&%20budget/page7.pdfCity of Winnipeg, What is a New Deal? http://www.winnipeg.ca/interhom/mayors office/NewDeal/TheNewDeal.stmCBC Manitoba, In depth, Winnipeg's New Deal: http://www.winnipeg.cbc.ca/indepth/newdeal/John Sewell, Winnipeg Shows the Way, Munimall.net: http://www.munimall.net/articles/03/031023sewell.n clkCity of Winnipeg, New Ideas. New Times. New Deal., Top Ten Questions and Answers: http://www.winnipeg.cbc.ca/indepth/newdealAppendix Table I:Winnipeg Sources of Revenue Before New Deal(CBC Manitoba, In depth, Winnipeg's New Deal: http://www.winnipeg.cbc.ca/indepth/newdeal)Table IIWinnipeg Sources of Revenue After New Deal(CBC Manitoba, In depth, Winnipeg's New Deal: http://www.winnipeg.cbc.ca/indepth/newdeal)Table IIINo Change vs. Change Under New Deal(City of Winnipeg, What is a New Deal? http://www.winnipeg.ca/interhom/mayors office/NewDeal/TheNewDeal.stm)UNDER THE OLD DEAL: UNDER A NEW DEAL:Our property value taxes would need to go up more than 50% to pay for the streets, bridges, sewers and water mains we've put off fixing. No one is proposing that - no one wants that.
Property value taxes could go down by 30-40-50% and other sources of revenue would fund infrastructure renewal.Our roads might eventually get fixed. Our roads could be in good shape within 10 years.Most City services are paid for with property taxes. Property taxes would only pay for property-related services (police protection for our homes, fire, street cleaning, snow removal, flood protection, neighbourhood revitalization, neighbourhood parks, urban planning).Only about 8.5% of fuel tax collected in Winnipeg by the Province and federal government goes to roads and Transit. 100% of a City fuel tax could go to roads and Transit.The cost of making Winnipeg a better place to live, work and play falls on us, Winnipeg taxpayers. Visitors and those living outside Winnipeg, who come here to work, shop and play, will share the cost of police services, road construction, recreation, parks and arts, entertainment and culture.The City doesn't have $1.2 billion to spend on upgrading its sewer and water system.
Increased revenues could pay for the necessary upgrades to our wastewater treatment plants, combined sewers and water mains, ensuring a clean environment.Citizens have no say in where their tax dollars go. Starting with public consultations and possibly ending with a shift to consumption taxes and user fees, each and every Winnipegger will have a say in what we pay.
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