Date:                     October 18, 2014

To:                        Media

From:                    Robert Kirwan
                             Candidate for Councillor of Ward 5

Re:                         Kirwan Proposes to Eliminate Many of our Current User Fees

____________________________________________________________________________________________I I will be proposing that City Council examine our mandate and determine if we should be charging residents for many of the services to which we now apply a user fee. There is much inconsistency in this area as a result of the city’s attempt taff to recover some of the costs of operating our municipal services even though we have used municipal taxes to provide those facilities and services in the first place. By charging users, we are “double dipping” into their financial resources with an additional hidden tax.  We are also creating a financial barrier to many in our community who are not financially able to pay for these services and therefore we have created a two-tier socio-economic situation in the City of Greater Sudbury.

For example, we do not charge residents for the use of our public libraries or our parks, playgrounds and trails, but we do charge them to use our municipal recreation and fitness centres.  We do not charge residents to use our public beaches in the summer months, but we do charge them to use our municipal pools in the winter. We do not charge residents to use our outdoor skating rinks that we operate in some playgrounds and at Queen’s Athletic Field, but we do charge them for public skating session in our indoor arenas. We have established a public transit system and use a combination of municipal taxes and provincial grants to operate this system, but we then charge people to ride on the city buses. We do not charge people for picking up their garbage at their property line every week, but we do charge them tipping fees when they deliver the garbage to our landfill sites.

I think it is time that we looked carefully at some of our user fee policies and consider eliminating those that are creating undue financial barriers to our residents. I understand charging organizations to rent ice time to operate their leagues. I understand charging for the private rental of our pools and hall facilities. But when we open up the facilities to the general public, I think it is wrong to then charge an additional user fee which is nothing more than a hidden tax. The residents have already paid for these services through their municipal and provincial taxes. They should not be required to pay more and some of the poor and disadvantaged residents in our city, including our young children, cannot afford to pay the user fee and are therefore denied their right of access.

In terms of recovering the lost revenue, I think it is up to City Council and staff to find administrative efficiencies in the way the city is run in order to reduce the costs in other areas. We are wasting a lot of money on duplication and on unnecessary positions that can be eliminated over the next four years. Or, better still, we should find ways of increasing our property tax base by stimulating residential and commercial development.


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