Sprawl

Last Minute Negotiations Lead To Even Lower Density

By Jason Leach
Published July 07, 2009

Hooray for Hamilton City Council! In an era when cities are trying to use resources properly and slowly curb the long-held practice of relying on taxpayer subsidies in order to build low density, debt producing sprawl subdivisions, some last minute negotiations have led to an already painfully low-density project being adjusted even lower!

Great work folks. It's no wonder civic leaders from all over the world come to our fine city to learn about the future...yeah, that'll be the day.

How can we possibly be lowering densities in projects that are already about as low as it gets? Before city council begins allowing changes like this, I think we need to see clear proof (preferably provided by someone with no stake in this project) that smaller house lots will devalue homes in the area. Sounds like a good old fashioned case of NIMBYism if you ask me.

Thank goodness the province has legislated 'Places to Grow' and other Smart Growth initiatives. Left to its own devices (and leadership) I shudder to see what Hamilton would look like in 20 years.

Jason Leach was born and raised in the Hammer and currently lives downtown with his wife and children. You can follow him on twitter.

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By Frank (registered) | Posted July 07, 2009 at 10:20:55

So the residents sent a petition and the councillor did his job but why did city hall cave? Who really cares if Ancaster doesn't feel it's in their character to have densely populated neighbourhoods? How does this work now? Does everyone else in this city have to toe the line while Ancaster does whatever it wants to? Time for city hall to develop some cajones!

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By JonC (registered) | Posted July 07, 2009 at 15:04:58

More likely they'll cave to all future requests.
I didn't respond to Mayor Eisenberger's piece earlier this month (density is covered in the third paragraph): http://www.raisethehammer.org/index.asp?... But this is the same BS that has happened since I moved here ago. Mayor Eisenberg's words were fantastic, but a modicum of action would be better.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted July 07, 2009 at 15:15:48

Jason, do you still believe it's the developers who are promoting sprawl. In this case, it's clear the developers are not happy about having to sell less units, only the established residents of the neighbourhood. Therefore, when you talk about limiting sprawl, perhaps you should champion the rights of private property owners, rather than celebrate the ability of government to interfere in their plans.

Developers want $$$, in order to do this they need lots of home buyers, therefore it's in their vested interest to make developments as dense as possible. That's what needs to be understood in Hamilton, business/profits are a net positive to the wealth of this city. Government, which has as it's only ability, the power to get in the way of buyers and sellers, destroys wealth creating economic transactions. Less government = more wealth creating economic transactions = happier, richer population.

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By George (registered) | Posted July 07, 2009 at 22:04:08

Jason, I think you are off base here. While the reduction in density from the original proposal is regrettable, Mattamy made a pragmatic business decision to avoid costly political delays for a development that is already on sale and doing well. The modified plan is still light years better than anything built to date in the Meadowlands and for that matter most of suburban Hamilton with a large number of townhouses as well as 30 and 36 foot lots and a smaller number of 43 foot wide lots. The lots are generally smaller (only 90 feet deep) than most of suburbia, houses are set close to the street with garages pushed back and the architectural detailing is quite attractive. From my back of the envelope calculation the density would appear to be similar to most older neighborhoods in the City and consistant with places to grow targets and the compromise only converted 30 lots out of 340 total from 30 foot lots to 36 footers, not exactly a huge reduction in density. This development may be be less dense than optimal because of political myopia and nimbyism, but it definitely represents a step in the right direction.

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By jason (registered) | Posted July 07, 2009 at 22:39:31

George, I agree with you. My point wasn't directed at Mattamy, rather city council. We should be encouraging developers who want to use their land more wisely, not fight them and get them to regress back to Hamilton's way of doing things.

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By George (registered) | Posted July 07, 2009 at 23:15:28

We should also be mindful that Mattamy managed to maintain the previously approved density of about 340 units after selling 6 acres of the 45 acre site to the Catholic school board. That was achieved by reducing lots sizes which recognized that buyers are migrating to smaller lots/houses in a tough economy.Those changes reflect both good planning and smart business.

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By jason (registered) | Posted July 08, 2009 at 08:03:26

interesting piece in today's Spec outlining which areas of the city, and which types of housing are seeing the most dramatic increases in values:

http://www.thespec.com/News/Business/art...

Doesn't seem to me that smaller homes are devaluing anything. Their increase in price is quite robust.

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted July 08, 2009 at 11:38:36

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted July 08, 2009 at 13:00:27

Jason, if downtown area homes have the lowest property values, how does this jive with your argument that they are the ones subsidizing the richer suburban areas?


Mountain = $212,191
West end = $245,900
East end = $167,885
Centre of Hamilton = $153,932

Furthermore, when you consider that central Hamilton has the biggest library, the highest concentration of transit services, HECFI venues, quick access to hospitals, it doesn't seem like their getting that bad of a deal. What am I missing?

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By JonC (registered) | Posted July 08, 2009 at 14:10:44

Age Building size Lot Size Location to industry Urban highways The 7k Hamilton looses on each new construction Common sense

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By jason (registered) | Posted July 08, 2009 at 14:25:02

ASmith, each new home results in a net loss of $7,000 to the existing tax base. Not just the downtown tax base.

Capitalist, you've said this a few times and I've forgotten to respond, but I think you're referring to a different church - we have one location, in Hamilton. Furthermore, churches are non-profit. We don't get a dime of government money.

Cheers

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted July 08, 2009 at 14:49:30

Jason >> each new home results in a net loss of $7,000 to the existing tax base.

Can you please tell me where you come up with this 7k per house tax deficit number. According to the 2009 budget, Hamilton has lowered tax rates approximately 3.6%, even while tax levies have gone up 6%. If every new home is making this city worse off, shouldn't tax rates be going up? I love looking at numbers, so if you could show me the actual numbers behind the 7k per house tax deficit figure, I would really appreciate it.

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted July 08, 2009 at 16:25:37

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By JonC (registered) | Posted July 08, 2009 at 16:52:58

http://www.hamiltoncatch.org/view_articl...

"For example, for every 100 houses that get built with the freeze in effect we'll be losing about $700,000 which will have to be made up from some other funding source."

Our taxes aren't going up because council is slashing other programs. Imagine two numbers not directly correlating. Your head must be swimming.

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By jason (registered) | Posted July 08, 2009 at 16:59:40

perhaps your screen name is more ingrained in you than I thought. We are NON- profit. Yes, such things still exist in society. My church owns 3 pieces of property - all of them in the former City of Hamilton boundaries. Garth, Pritchard and Main Street. Most churches in Canada would close down if forced to pay property taxes (like most non-profits). Our employees happily pay income taxes like any other worker in society.
This has nothing to do with me, as a citizen of this city, being less than impressed that I continually subsidize home builders.
Finally, this is my last response to this off-topic stuff you routinely bring to the table. Please join into the discussions with thoughtful insights or ideas instead of trying to find random personal straw-men to attack. Where Ryan or I work has nothing to do with the issues facing Hamilton's development and economy.

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By jason (registered) | Posted July 08, 2009 at 17:00:28

thanks JonC, I was just going to go and dig up that number for ASmith.

Cheers

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted July 08, 2009 at 20:01:53

JonC >> "For example, for every 100 houses that get built with the freeze in effect we'll be losing about $700,000 which will have to be made up from some other funding source."

The numbers you provided do NOT show that the cost of servicing suburban homes are 7k in excess of what these same homes produce in new tax revenue to the city. All they show is that city staff WANT to charge 7k more for each new house built. If you want to prove that new area home buyers are getting a super deal, you need to show how much more in services they will receive vs how much they pay in property taxes.

Furthermore, because new homes enjoy much higher market values than central Hamilton homes, they also pay much higher property taxes. For example, the average home downtown pays $2,442/yr, while homes in the west end pay $3,902/yr. Do the people of the west end enjoy $1,460 dollars of extra services/yr than residents downtown receive? If so, what are they?

Moreover, the people who are getting the BEST deal from the city, are not buyers in the new areas of the city, but new buyers of existing homes. These home buyers did not pay for existing infrastructure, yet they enjoy it's benefits. Furthermore, they don't pay anything in development costs, saving themselves 20k per house as compared to new home buyers in most areas of the city.

I agree that developers should pay to hook new homes up to existing infrastructure, but beyond that, property taxes should cover the rest.

Unless you can prove that new homes increase costs more than they increase overall revenue to the city (not just based on what city staff WANT to charge), than your argument against new area homes is nothing more a general bias against suburban living, not one based on evidence.

Lastly, please address my point about the city's falling tax rates combined with it's healthy increase in property tax revenue. The only way this can happen is if assessments are increasing FASTER than costs are going up, which is a good thing. Seeing that this is happening as many new housing developments (and Big Box stores) take shape across the city, it weakens the argument that greenfield development is anything but a net positive to the city's finances.

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By JonC (registered) | Posted July 08, 2009 at 22:36:28

I know you can read, so you must either be ignorant, willfully or other wise, but $7,394 is the shortfall between the cost to build infrastructure for a new home and the development fee charged. If you want to dispute that figure, that's fine, but you'll notice none of the home builders don't even deny the number, let alone provide their own analysis, they just petition to put off the increase. If you had looked into it at all, you'd have noticed that your good buddies Burlington and Oakville charge 80% to 130% more per home than Hamilton currently does.

"Moreover, the people who are getting the BEST deal from the city, are not buyers in the new areas of the city, but new buyers of existing homes. These home buyers did not pay for existing infrastructure, yet they enjoy it's benefits. Furthermore, they don't pay anything in development costs, saving themselves 20k per house as compared to new home buyers in most areas of the city. "

Maybe it's not that you're ignorant but an idiot. Just think about what you're saying. Are the buyers of these new homes getting a 20k refund when they sell the home? Just think it over. Actually scrap that, you'll get it wrong. The answer is that the development fee on existing homes were paid WHEN THEY WERE BUILT and the COST HAS BEEN WORKED INTO THE HOME FOR EVERY SALE SINCE THEN. I typed that in caps so that you might read it extra carefully.

Finally, to address "Lastly, please address my point about the city's falling tax rates combined with it's healthy increase in property tax revenue", that is due to the gradual phase in of MPAC's increases as determined back in 2007. For example, MPAC has increased their valuation of my home by 6.7% this year which more than offsets the tax decrease of 3.7%. The increase is based on past valuations and assumptions and does not take the current state of the market into account.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted July 09, 2009 at 02:38:14

JonC >> $7,394 is the shortfall between the cost to build infrastructure for a new home and the development fee charged. If you want to dispute that figure, that's fine

This is a quote from the CATCH link...

"The change is driven by the need to expand water and sewer treatment and distribution facilities that are already over-capacity because of previous growth. That portion of the charges is climbing $7,778 per house, while combined fees to cover other infrastructure is actually declining by $384."

There you have it, new home buyers are the ones who must now pay the cost of expanding water treatment facilities, not because the average cost is going up by 37.7%, but because previous homeowners allowed spare capacity to run to zero. If the city had actually planned for future population growth, they would have built up a capital fund over the years, not simply charged the last straw on the camel's back to have to pay to fix it.

>> The answer is that the development fee on existing homes were paid WHEN THEY WERE BUILT and the COST HAS BEEN WORKED INTO THE HOME FOR EVERY SALE SINCE THEN.

Because assets depreciate (that means they wear out) over time, the development fees charged to older homes have long since been used up. That's why people have to pay to fix their cars, homes and even their bodies. Assuming that a one time payment 50-80 years ago will cover the costs associated with the upkeep of city infrastructure is ridiculous.

All taxpayers should have to pay a portion of their taxes into a capital improvement fund, which is then used in the expansion and upkeep of city infrastructure as needed. Not simply waiting until things wear out and then pushing the costs onto the newcomers.

Therefore, to the extent that infrastructure was under invested in for decades, it's only fair that ALL taxpayers pay to fix the problem.

>> MPAC has increased their valuation of my home by 6.7% this year which more than offsets the tax decrease of 3.7%. The increase is based on past valuations and assumptions.

According to this... www.thespec.com/News/Business/article/596064
, home prices in Hamilton are up across the board from last year.

However, if you still don't like having to pay higher total taxes, why don't you join my call for a cap on tax increases. This would mean your tax bill would stay in line with your income levels and would limit the city's ability to fund projects that you think are wasteful.

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By jason (registered) | Posted July 09, 2009 at 07:41:41

I think arguing over development charges is a waste of time. Every home ever built paid them, so let's not worry about how long ago or recent it was.

There are other reports around that also identify the $7,000 number as the shortfall the city incurs. I'll try to find them and post them here.

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By jason (registered) | Posted July 09, 2009 at 09:26:12

sorry, my last statement is unclear at best. I meant to say "lets not worry about development charges from 80 years ago". there was a day in this town where industry paid 75% of the tax base. Now it's down to 15-30% depending on who you listen to. our city simply can't afford to be subsidizing new home buyers to the tune of $7,000 per home.
Lower city residents know all too well the dangers that lurk everytime there is a huge rainfall. The infrastructure in Hamilton was built decades ago and only has a specific carrying capacity. We've already surpassed that capacity and one massive rainstorm will prove it.

Sprawl needs to immediately be halted until a new water/infrastructure plant can be built on the Mountain somewhere. It's not fair for Kenilworth area residents to have flooded basements 3 times a year because all the new runoff coming from above the escarpment overloads the system.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted July 09, 2009 at 11:03:59

I'd be very interested to know what development charges were like 80 years ago. For instance, the company who developed Westdale was required to build the McKittrick bridge (hence the name) before any house construction could begin.

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted July 09, 2009 at 12:51:19

Jason

"This has nothing to do with me, as a citizen of this city, being less than impressed that I continually subsidize home builders."

Well Jason, you complain about subsidizing home builders but the rest of the city is continually subsidizing your church and others. Just because your church is "non-profit" doesn't mean it shoulld get a tax break. So just because a couple a bible-thumpers decide to open a church that nobody cares about they should be given a property tax break?

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By Wiccan (anonymous) | Posted July 09, 2009 at 12:56:59

Jason, you have to admit that Capitalist raises some interesting points.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted July 09, 2009 at 14:38:22

Oh look. Capitalist has a sockpuppet. ^

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By JonC (registered) | Posted July 09, 2009 at 16:30:22

"There you have it, new home buyers are the ones who must now pay the cost of expanding water treatment facilities, not because the average cost is going up by 37.7%, but because previous homeowners allowed spare capacity to run to zero."

If the new homes aren't built, there is sufficient capacity, so, to increase the number of homes being serviced (particularly at a distance) the new homes (not the existing homes) require the increase in facilities.

"If the city had actually planned for future population growth, they would have built up a capital fund over the years, not simply charged the last straw on the camel's back to have to pay to fix it."

You're right, they should have increased the development fee years ago and created a capital fund instead of caving into builder's demands. Of course, your argument is that they shouldn't increase the fee, so I'm confused as to whether you are in favour of the increase or not.

"Because assets depreciate (that means they wear out) over time, the development fees charged to older homes have long since been used up. That's why people have to pay to fix their cars, homes and even their bodies. Assuming that a one time payment 50-80 years ago will cover the costs associated with the upkeep of city infrastructure is ridiculous."

The initial development fees went into infrastructure capital costs which is maintained by property taxes.

"All taxpayers should have to pay a portion of their taxes into a capital improvement fund, which is then used in the expansion and upkeep of city infrastructure as needed. Not simply waiting until things wear out and then pushing the costs onto the newcomers."

I want to get this clear, YOU WANT TO RAISE YOUR TAXES TO SUPPORT THE INFRASTRUCTURE OF NEW DEVELOPMENTS. Just checking.

"Therefore, to the extent that infrastructure was under invested in for decades, it's only fair that ALL taxpayers pay to fix the problem."

Again, property taxes go into maintenance. New infrastructure for increased capacity should be covered by those asking for it.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted July 10, 2009 at 00:53:57

Jason >> our city simply can't afford to be subsidizing new home buyers to the tune of $7,000 per home.

The only people being subsidized are the people with low assessment values and most of these homes are downtown Hamilton. The average downtown home pays $2,442 per year in property taxes, while people on the mountain pay $3,367 and people in the west end pay $3,902.

Therefore, when you make the argument that new homes cost the city 7k in the first year that they are built, even if that is the case (I have yet to see numbers that show the average cost of water infrastructure per house), it will only take 5 years for that figure to be paid back by their higher assessment values. After that 5 year period, the city benefits to the tune of $1,500 per year by having a new home, rather than relying on low value downtown homes.

In fact, without new homes, downtown residents would face much higher tax bills to support aging infrastructure, regardless of whether the population grows or not.

JonC >> If the new homes aren't built, there is sufficient capacity, so, to increase the number of homes being serviced (particularly at a distance) the new homes (not the existing homes) require the increase in facilities.

Check out this link... www.insituform.com/content/342/about-insituform-cipp.aspx

These are the people who have been working on Hamilton's sewers recently, tell me that they are not in the business of repairing existing pipes, rather than just building new ones. The point is that the system is overloaded at times because the system is aging, not simply because there are more people living here.

Yes, I agree that the true cost of laying new pipe, libraries, parks, etc should be paid by the new areas that will benefit, but not costs that are the result of knowable underinvestment from previous generations. When people buy stuff at a new store, they are not charged a "new store fee" on top of whatever it is that they're purchasing, rather ALL customers pay that cost when it is factored into the final price. Each customer only pays the average price of what they consume.

>> they should have increased the development fee years ago and created a capital fund instead of caving into builder's demands. Of course, your argument is that they shouldn't increase the fee

The development fee should reflect the cost of new infrastructure that is built as a direct result of the new homes, no more, no less. Thus, if the city needs to increase water capacity by 5% due greater demand from new homes, this cost should come out of the general revenue stream that comes for selling water services to the people of Hamilton, not just the new customers.

>> The initial development fees went into infrastructure capital costs which is maintained by property taxes.

Except that isn't the case at all. Property taxes did not go to keeping the water system in good condition, that's why we have had the recent repair blitz the past few years. The crisis we have today is the direct result of a shortsighted underinvestment for decades. This is not the fault of the new home buyers, it's the fault of the people who were in charge of keeping the system in good repair and with a stable level of extra capacity.

>> YOU WANT TO RAISE YOUR TAXES TO SUPPORT THE INFRASTRUCTURE OF NEW DEVELOPMENTS

No, I want the city to spend tax dollars on things that matter, like keeping sewage out of people's basements, rather than on maintaining golf courses, hockey arenas, music festivals, and buses that carry but a few people, etc.

>> Again, property taxes go into maintenance. New infrastructure for increased capacity should be covered by those asking for it.

If you were the last person to move to Hamilton, right before water capacity went over 100%, should you have to pay for the fixed costs associated with building new capacity? What if you were the 10th to last person, how about then? The fact that you moved to Hamilton at all means you strained the capacity, does it really matter if you were the exact person who pushed it over 100%?

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By JonC (registered) | Posted July 10, 2009 at 10:20:10

"The only people being subsidized are the people with low assessment values and most of these homes are downtown Hamilton. The average downtown home pays $2,442 per year in property taxes, while people on the mountain pay $3,367 and people in the west end pay $3,902."

Well Mr. Smith, since the purpose of housing is hold a number of people, houses on the mountain must hold 3367/2442 times the number of people in a house downtown. Otherwise the free market doesn't make any sense and people are throwing a hundred thousand dollars away for no good reason.

"It will only take 5 years for that figure to be paid back by their higher assessment values. After that 5 year period, the city benefits to the tune of $1,500 per year by having a new home, rather than relying on low value downtown homes."

Again, they must have 3367/2442 times the average people, so to higher tax levy reflects that the the average house on the mountain has more residents consuming services and infrastructure.

"These are the people who have been working on Hamilton's sewers recently, tell me that they are not in the business of repairing existing pipes, rather than just building new ones."

Yes at some point in a product's lifetime replacement becomes cheaper than repair, that's basic economics, so when it's cheaper to repair, the tax money goes to repairs and when it's cheaper to replace, that's where it goes.

"When people buy stuff at a new store, they are not charged a "new store fee" on top of whatever it is that they're purchasing, rather ALL customers pay that cost when it is factored into the final price. Each customer only pays the average price of what they consume."

That is true, and a poor analogy since in it ALL customers go from 0 products to X products and they all are sharing in the cost of construction. In what we're talking about existing homes already have X products, so in your analogy, the new store would come to your home and demand money for the product you already have.

"The development fee should reflect the cost of new infrastructure that is built as a direct result of the new homes, no more, no less."

I agree, which is why they should increase the development cost immediately.

"Thus, if the city needs to increase water capacity by 5% due greater demand from new homes, this cost should come out of the general revenue stream that comes for selling water services to the people of Hamilton, not just the new customers."

So you want to INCREASE YOUR TAXES to subsidize increased pumping capacity. Just to clarify what's happening, in case maybe this is the issue, is that the existing city, while overburdened due to not increasing development fees, is okay. It's not that they need to tear everything down or that the whole works is about to rust out. We're at capacity and to expand capacity, which if you know anything about plumbing increases with distance, new infrastructure, in addition to what is already there, needs to be built. I just want to make sure we're on the same page.

"If you were the last person to move to Hamilton, right before water capacity went over 100%, should you have to pay for the fixed costs associated with building new capacity? What if you were the 10th to last person, how about then?"

This is why the development fees should have been increased years ago, so that we would never be at 100% capacity. I also note that you haven't addressed Oakville's fee being twice Hamilton's Are they completely ripping off new developers. Especially since they will be recouping even more property tax from those homeowners than Hamiltonian's pay.

"The fact that you moved to Hamilton at all means you strained the capacity, does it really matter if you were the exact person who pushed it over 100%?"

I bought an existing home, so I strained nothing.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted July 10, 2009 at 14:13:18

JonC >> they must have 3367/2442 times the average people, so to higher tax levy reflects that the the average house on the mountain has more residents consuming services and infrastructure.

If you believe that, then why do you call these houses sprawl? Sprawl is low population density housing, but if you're saying that these higher value homes have more people than downtown, than it isn't sprawl, right? Furthermore, if it isn't sprawl, then the infrastructure being built/person is not a waste, because many people will use it.

>> what we're talking about existing homes already have X products, so in your analogy, the new store would come to your home and demand money for the product you already have.

No, all that needs to happen is for the water folks to charge the true cost of delivering x amount of water. This cost should include not just the variable cost of water, but the all the fixed costs that are required to keep the system running. In this way, if you use lots of water, you pay a higher amount, because you are taxing the system more than others.

>> So you want to INCREASE YOUR TAXES to subsidize increased pumping capacity.

No, I want to see water bills pay for water infrastructure. If that requires even higher water bills than we have today, so be it. At least that way, people would be rewarded for conservation and punished for wasteful water use.

>> you haven't addressed Oakville's fee being twice Hamilton's Are they completely ripping off new developers.

It could be that they are. Just to reiterate, I do think that developers should pay the true cost of laying pipes, building sidewalks, setting up new police stations, etc. These things are located in the area of the new homes, so they will benefit disproportionately as a result.

However, Jason mentioned that sprawl should stop until a new treatment facility is built on the mountain. Okay, if that was done, then would the rest of the city want access to the new water facilities? Could they use the brand new water system, instead of having to fix the old one? Would that be fair, seeing that they didn't pay to build it?

>> I bought an existing home, so I strained nothing.

If you use more water than someone else, than you DO strain the system more. It has nothing to do with how old the house is, it has to do with how much water you draw and how much you put down the pipes. What if you used 10x as much water as the original homeowner, are you not more responsible for using up spare capacity than someone with a new home who uses 10x less? Of course you are.

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By JonC (registered) | Posted July 10, 2009 at 16:49:19

I don't actually believe that, but I do appreciate how you'll argue both sides of an argument. However, those people that are tossing the extra $100,000 at that home should be well aware of the associated tax increase that accompanies it. They are choosing to pay that property tax when they buy the home. And since they are paying that extra $100,000 the home must really be worth it either due to an increase in size, or an increase in services and amenities. Or it's an irrational decision.

I only met one of the previous owners and her daughter a couple of times, but I'm pretty certain my family uses less water. But they might have been ultra conservative, so who knows.
Also, you forgot to factor in distance to the amount of consumption. Friction in the pipes causes additional pressure requirements the farther you want to pump water, and apparently water pipes all over the world leak a ridiculous amount of water (20 - 30% on average with cases of up to 50%) and the further water is pumped, the higher the probability you lose water to a leak.

http://irc.nrc-cnrc.gc.ca/pubs/ctus/40_e...

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By jason (registered) | Posted July 10, 2009 at 22:43:31

I don't have much time to respond to some of these issues above right now, but I need to get this out there - developers are NOT being ripped off anywhere. In Ontario is is ILLEGAL for municipalities to charge 100% of the new infrastructure costs to the developers who need them. I don't recall off the top of my head what the legal limit is, but I think it's around the 80% range. Cities are only allowed to recover 80% (if that's what it is) of the costs of new development.
In other words, sprawl has actually been mandated in legislation. Existing taxpayers have no choice but to fork over 20% of the costs for people to move further out of the city...in Hamilton that number is closer to 35-40%. Oakville is at least trying to recover as much as they can. Hamilton is just funding a free ride and has been for decades.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted July 11, 2009 at 00:44:26

JonC >> those people that are tossing the extra $100,000 at that home should be well aware of the associated tax increase that accompanies it.

They're aware of it, but apparently no one else on this site is aware of it. At least you're now admitting that new homes produce more in revenue (especially over many years) than inner city homes. Because of this fact, that new homes bring in more than $1,500/year more than downtown homes, why be an @sshole about development fees.

If the goal is fairness, then it's the inner city properties that should start paying higher tax rates to account for their lower market values. Fair is fair.

JonC >> you forgot to factor in distance to the amount of consumption

If it takes more money to pump water farther distances, which makes sense, this should be reflected in people's water bills, so we agree on this point.

Jason >> developers are NOT being ripped off anywhere.

That's right, in Hamilton, they simply pass on development charges
to new home buyers, who, because they live in nicer homes, pay at least 50% more in property taxes than downtown residents, even though they have smaller libraries, less transit access and none of the HECFI cultural amenities within walking distance. The truth is, inner city residents get the lion's share of services, but pay the least in taxes.

Do you really want to keep arguing that inner city residents are subsidizing the suburbs? If so, please tell me why it's fair that inner city homes pay the lowest amount of property taxes.

If everyone should pay for what they consume, then how come people with easy access to the Central Library, Copps, AGH, the largest # of transit routes, pay the least amount of property taxes. The city simply can't afford to subsidize these great services if the revenue in the area is so low? Does that sound about right Jason?

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By arienc (registered) | Posted July 11, 2009 at 09:23:15

Some reasons why property taxes should be lower in downtown areas than in the suburbs:

  • smaller lots: less distance for water and sewage to travel from the residences to the main lines, easier to collect waste.
  • less road space to be built, policed, maintained and cleared per dwelling.
  • fewer/smaller parks and recreation facilities.

Yes, development charges are passed on to homebuyers. That is the point. Those who buy new homes should pay the full cost of capital for the public services that make those homes livable. And yes, bigger homes spread farther apart that have more road space, sewer mains, should pay more, based on what it costs to build new facilities and support added upkeep on existing facilities.

After all, when an owner sells that home, he or she receives a market price which includes the market value affected by being near to schools, parks, and having efficient and modern services.

If on the other hand we do not collect the full cost in the development charge to developers, the developer will still sell the home at whatever price the market will bear, and therefore since market value reflects the value of those services, the developer will realize a profit that is fully taxpayer-subsidized. I'm all for developers being able to make a profit, but it should be on their own dime, not mine.

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By jason (registered) | Posted July 11, 2009 at 09:53:17

it never ends does it??

Please read the top 4 tax classes in this document for areas with transit (for equal comparison)

http://www.myhamilton.ca/NR/rdonlyres/8E...

It gives the residential tax RATES for each region of the city: residential, farmland waiting for residential, multi-residential and new multi-residential. Please notice which part of the city has the HIGHEST rates in EVERY category.

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By JonC (registered) | Posted July 11, 2009 at 11:59:16

"pay at least 50% more in property taxes than downtown residents, even though they have smaller libraries, less transit access and none of the HECFI cultural amenities within walking distance."

You really make suburbanites sound like idiots. I don't think that's fair.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted July 11, 2009 at 14:20:43

arienc >> smaller lots: less distance for water and sewage to travel from the residences to the main lines, easier to collect waste.

Take a look on a map and tell me how close downtown homes are to Woodward Avenue? Then explain why you think new homes are so much farther away? If you can do that, you're either legally blind, or a liar. Furthermore, as I said before, water charges should be reflected in water bills, not property taxes. That way you only pay for how much water costs that you create.

>> less road space to be built, policed, maintained and cleared per dwelling.

Show me the numbers that says how much it costs to service suburban areas of the city. If you can't, then your basing your argument on nothing.

>> fewer/smaller parks and recreation facilities.

Which is more than made up for by bigger libraries, AGH, better transit, HECFI venues, etc. Do these services not count?

The truth is, both inner residents and suburban residents receive services, although the value of these is unknown. However, what we do know and what can be shown with REAL NUMBERS, is that inner city residents pay much less, more than 50% less in property taxes than new homeowners do. All you have to back up your arguments are guesstimates, not strong enough to be taken seriously.

Jason >> Please notice which part of the city has the HIGHEST rates in EVERY category.

The tax rate difference is only across old municipal boundaries, not within Hamilton proper. Thus inner city residents are still getting more for less than east end Hamilton, or the mountain, or the west end of Hamilton. If anyone is getting screwed over its these areas, not the downtown.

However, even with these lower tax rates across old communities, the tax rates are still only 10-15% lower than Hamilton, which is not enough to account for the 50%, if not higher value of these new areas home prices.

Show me actual numbers that detail the cost breakdown of servicing each community, how much is paid in taxes, otherwise your whole argument that inner city residents are getting screwed over is based on nothing but your opinion. That's fine if you are looking to convince like minded people, but it's not enough to convince people who like to know the truth. Very weak indeed.

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By jason (registered) | Posted July 11, 2009 at 14:29:39

it shouldn't take a brain surgeon to figure out that servicing an area with a high density costs less per household than servicing an area with a much lower density. Furthermore, tax RATES are the more accurate indicator, not 'actual' numbers. The tax RATES tell us that someone in the suburbs can own a property 15% larger than mine and still pay the identical amount in taxes each year. And by keeping the comparison only in areas that receive transit, it is a fair comparison. You can't pull something out of a hat like "walking distance to HECFI". I could just as easily pull out "walking distance to the Dundas Valley". If you want to discuss the facts, fine. But please spare us with all the other stuff and crazy assumptions. Just look at the numbers and you'll see why I would support a true, and complete de-amalgamation tomorrow.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted July 11, 2009 at 15:47:43

Jason >> it shouldn't take a brain surgeon to figure out that servicing an area with a high density costs less per household than servicing an area with a much lower density.

The largest cost embedded in property taxes are employee wages. What area of the city do you really think calls the police/fire more often, Ancaster, or downtown Hamilton? One area is quiet and peaceful ,the other filled with welfare cases, ex-cons, rowdy bars and old homes that seem to catch fire every other week.

In fact, employee costs are 5x more than material costs, which means that the area which uses the most man hours is the true winner when it comes to receiving the most services.

>> tax RATES tell us that someone in the suburbs can own a property 15% larger than mine and still pay the identical amount in taxes each year.

Are you saying that every home in Hamilton pays the exact property tax? Please, tell me you don't believe this? You're just joking, right?

>> If you want to discuss the facts, fine.

The only facts we have are tax rates and home prices. Using these two numbers, we know that inner city homes pay tax rates 10- 15% higher than other communities, but have home values 50% less than other communities. Therefore, the total taxes paid by inner city residents is LOWER than the other areas of the city. Do you dispute this? If so, show me why this rough estimate is wrong.

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By JonC (registered) | Posted July 11, 2009 at 18:45:57

"What area of the city do you really think calls the police/fire more often, Ancaster, or downtown Hamilton? One area is quiet and peaceful ,the other filled with welfare cases, ex-cons, rowdy bars and old homes that seem to catch fire every other week. "

I assume you have numbers for that.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted July 11, 2009 at 19:15:22

No I don't, but neither do you. The only numbers we do have are tax rates and average home prices. These two numbers tell us that inner city Hamilton pays less than other areas, therefore, unless someone can figure out exactly how much services each area of Hamilton receives, we are all arguing from a position of ignorance.

The best solution, in this case, is to reduce tax rates for everybody, which will allow us all to keep more of our wealth. For example, take all water costs (including maintenance and expansion) completely off the property tax and put it on our water bills. That way if you use lots of water, thus straining the system, you pay more to build it back up. Introducing tolls on busy roads would help as well. Charging a small fee (5 cents) per book at the local library. All of these things would still allow for public goods, but would force the biggest users to pay more.

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By arienc (registered) | Posted July 11, 2009 at 19:18:26

A Smith >> Show me the numbers that says how much it costs to service suburban areas of the city. If you can't, then your basing your argument on nothing.

I'm basing it on average lot size which is easy enough to see with the naked eye. It takes 60 feet+ of pipe for each house when you have a subdivision of 60 foot lots. It takes 20 feet+ of pipe for each house when you have a subdivision of 20 foot lots. Ditto for length of roadway that has to be built and maintained. Garbage trucks have to drive further between stops. More length of roads and sidewalks have to be plowed. One doesn't need figures, just common sense to understand that large lots cost more to service than small ones.

Plus since all of those residences are so far away from commercial areas and employment, the average trip length is larger...meaning traffic policing costs (which are largely labour) are far higher.

And as far as the central library, AGH, and HECFI venues go, these are for the benefit of the entire city (including tourists for the AGH and HECFI). Downtown residents may be within walking distance, but the benefits accrue to the whole city's residents and businesses (it's called the Art Gallery of Hamilton, not the Art Gallery of Downtown)

A Smith >> The only facts we have are tax rates and home prices. Using these two numbers, we know that inner city homes pay tax rates 10- 15% higher than other communities, but have home values 50% less than other communities. Therefore, the total taxes paid by inner city residents is LOWER than the other areas of the city. Do you dispute this? If so, show me why this rough estimate is wrong.

So you notice that tax rates downtown are actually higher than elsewhere in the city. Funny how you argue that the tax rate is important and ignore market value when comparing vs. other communities, but suddenly tax rates are less important when comparing different parts of the city. The hole in your logic grows ever- larger.

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted July 11, 2009 at 22:40:16

A Smith writes: The largest cost embedded in property taxes are employee wages

So I assuming that you mean the people who actually work for the city, such as fire, police, staff and so on who administer programs such as Ontario Works.

Well, is not the majority of these workers covered by union contract which allows for better then living wages, benefits and pensions?

How many of these workers that work for the city say, live up in Ancaster? How many of these workers voted for the Harris regime, which downloaded social services to the municipal level and that took away from those the most vulnerable in our society because they though they were going to get savings on their taxes?

The schism lies in the fact that labour is divided, those who are covered and then those who do not have have a collective to speak for them.

So I guess in my mind, I find it completely out of line to see a Ontario Works, worker being paid an amount that is so out of line with the private sector, whining about their taxes and such on their so called homes up there in Ancaster, yet they are the ones who deprive the most vulnerable in our society, plain and simple.

Why is it, that you are always blaming those at the bottom of our society when it it those who work for the system that cause much grieve because they will not stand up for their fellow workers across the board.

Does it make sense that an employment counillor for the city is being paid almost 35 bucks an hour to push people into mimiumum wage jobs, temp work or forced volunteer work to be able to get a 570.00 pr month cheque on social assistance, that is for a single person, who may have lost their job due to no fault of their own, they may not be able to access EI.

Who is to blame for this? I tell you who, those who make exhoribant amounts of money, walk around with blinders on the faces, as it does not touch them, to deprive their fellow citizens to be able to live a life in dignity.

Quit blaming those at the bottom, start putting the blame were it should be placed at those at the top of the pyramid.

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By jason (registered) | Posted July 11, 2009 at 23:04:42

again, if you're going to randomly pull things out of a hat, you need to do it across the board.

ASmith: "The largest cost embedded in property taxes are employee wages. What area of the city do you really think calls the police/fire more often, Ancaster, or downtown Hamilton? One area is quiet and peaceful ,the other filled with welfare cases, ex-cons, rowdy bars and old homes that seem to catch fire every other week."

Ok, let's use the same principle but apply it to the employee costs related to garbage pick-up, snow removal, road resurfacing etc.... in low density, sprawled out areas. It costs way more (per home) to pick up garbage in an area where there is a fraction of the number of households as in a dense area.

Stick the basics here...your assumptions and selective ideas don't prove your point. They can be used to prove both of our points....so let's not bother.

Property values are determined by a provincial agency. If people in the suburbs don't like the fact that their homes are worth more than inner city homes, perhaps they can begin selling their homes for 75% of the usual price as a means of convincing MPAC that their assessments should be lowered. Good luck getting that petition going.

Tax rates are the only stat worth discussing here.
When we look at crime stats we don't look at overall number of crimes committed now compared with 10 years ago. there are too many variables. We look at the rate per 1,000 people or some other basic method of coming up with a realistic answer. You're simply wasting a lot of time here skirting the real issue staring at you - the OLD city of Hamilton pays MORE taxes than the suburbs. Taxes are supposed to reflect the value of services and the value of said property. With identical services offered in the entire area of the city with transit, it would make sense that the higher tax rates should be in the suburban areas to reflect the higher property values. The service levels are the same, so they should cancel each other out. Yet the lowest property values in the poorest areas are paying a higher tax rate than the richer areas. If the second part of the equation is tax rates as a result of property values then old city residents are really getting screwed.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted July 11, 2009 at 23:14:02

arienc >> It takes 60 feet+ of pipe for each house when you have a subdivision of 60 foot lots

I have already stated that ALL infrastructure built as a direct result of new communities should be paid for by those communities alone.

>> Garbage trucks have to drive further between stops.

Do you know how much it costs (labour, fuel, etc) to service 100 suburban homes vs 100 inner city homes? If not, then you can't say just because the distance is longer that it costs more. Perhaps the suburban streets are less congested with parked cars, easier to maneuver, etc. The distance may be longer, but it may take less time. Without knowing the exact costs, your whole argument is based on nothing but your opinion.

>> One doesn't need figures, just common sense

If you're making an argument about numbers than you need numbers to prove your case. Otherwise personal bias can make you believe things that may not be true. This goes for all sides of this debate, as development fees may need to be even higher than what you're arguing for.

The problem is that we just don't know who benefits from government services. Because they're free, there are no paying customers to bill. This problem is not found in the private sector, everyone who consumes pays their fair share.

>> those residences are so far away from commercial areas and employment, the average trip length is larger...meaning traffic policing costs (which are largely labour) are far higher.

Show me numbers to back this up.

>> Downtown residents may be within walking distance (of HECFI), but the benefits accrue to the whole city's residents and businesses

But downtown residents save money by not having to drive/park. Therefore they benefit disproportionately. Correct?

>> Funny how you argue that the tax rate is important and ignore market value when comparing vs. other communities, but suddenly tax rates are less important when comparing different parts of the city.

If you are arguing for different tax rates within the old city of Hamilton, I don't disagree with you. However, this could be taken to the extreme whereby every street would want it's own tax rate.

Perhaps instead of tax rates, we should simply divide the total levy requirement by the number of residences in the city (plus business operations), thus giving each homeowner his or her personal tax rate based on the value of his/her house. Not a bad idea.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted July 11, 2009 at 23:32:59

Jason >> You're simply wasting a lot of time here skirting the real issue staring at you - the OLD city of Hamilton pays MORE taxes than the suburbs.

Per household, the people who pay the least amount of TOTAL property taxes are the people who live downtown Hamilton. The homes are the least valuable and when multiplied against the higher tax rate, is still the lowest total tax bill. Do you dispute this?

>> With identical services offered in the entire area of the city with transit, it would make sense that the higher tax rates should be in the suburban areas to reflect the higher property values.

Property value x tax rate = tax bill

50% Higher property value x same tax rate = 50% HIGHER tax bill
50% Higher property value x higher tax rate = > 50% higher tax bill

Are you saying that people who already pay higher taxes for the same level of services should also pay higher tax rates as well?

>> the lowest property values in the poorest areas are paying a higher tax rate than the richer areas.

50% lower property values x 15% higher tax rate = .575% of higher property value TOTAL tax bill.

See, even with a higher tax rate (15% higher), it's still not enough to account for the 50% lower home values. The low value inner city homes are still only paying 57.5% of what the suburban homes are.

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By jason (registered) | Posted July 12, 2009 at 07:32:19

ASmith: "Do you know how much it costs (labour, fuel, etc) to service 100 suburban homes vs 100 inner city homes?"

Do you know the difference in policing costs from suburbs to the city??

Property value x tax rate = tax bill

This isn't entirely true. Some areas with lower service levels pay less. Regardless, take me up on my offer to petition suburban folks to start selling $300,000 homes for $200,000 if they are so upset with paying taxes based on property value. That's how it works.

And by the way, there are many areas in lower Hamilton with home values just as high, or higher than in the suburbs. Check the property listings for comparable homes in the downtown areas of Kirkendall, Strathcona and in the Westdale area and compare them to identical (or as close as possible) homes in Dundas or Stoney Creek. All areas with transit and identical amenities as far as parks, rec, snow plowing etc.... the Hamilton homes pay much more in taxes every year. Doesn't sound very fair does it??

Conversely, take the cheaper homes found in north/central Hamilton and you'll find similar homes and prices in older areas of Dundas, Stoney Creek etc.... again, the Hamilton homes are paying more in taxes for identical services and with identical property values.

You're wasting an entire discussion here trying to compare the cheapest homes in north/central Hamilton with homes triple the size and more than the double the value. Make straight comparisons with equal property size and equal property value and you'll see who's getting ripped off.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted July 12, 2009 at 14:18:23

Jason >> there are many areas in lower Hamilton with home values just as high, or higher than in the suburbs.

I don't doubt that, but on AVERAGE, homes downtown have the lowest values in the city and therefore as a group, contribute the least to city coffers. Therefore, when you write an article implying that these same people, who pay the least $$/year in taxes, are being screwed over by people who pay 50% more $$/year in taxes, it strikes me as both inaccurate and unfair.

The truth is, the AVERAGE new homeowner has a higher property value than the AVERAGE downtown home, pays a higher total tax bill and receive a level of services that no one can prove is any higher than anywhere else in the city. Therefore, with the information we have, it's the AVERAGE downtown homeowner that is getting the best deal, not the AVERAGE new home buyer.

If you own a valuable downtown property with a high tax bill, the people you should be upset at are not new homeowners, but your neighbours with low value properties. These are the people who are paying small tax bills, have run down homes, low incomes, but who have access to services equal to yourself.

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By JonC (registered) | Posted July 12, 2009 at 14:36:20

"Therefore, when you write an article implying that these same people, who pay the least $$/year in taxes, are being screwed over by people who pay 50% more $$/year in taxes, it strikes me as both inaccurate and unfair."

Maybe you should re-read the article.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted July 12, 2009 at 17:06:56

Jason's article >> curb the long-held practice of relying on taxpayer subsidies in order to build low density, debt producing sprawl subdivisions

From the Spec article (www.thespec.com/News/Business/article/596064)...

"average price of a detached bungalow on the Mountain was $212,191"
"west end bungalow averaged $245,900"
"In the east end, a bungalow averaged $167,885"
"centre of Hamilton...showing an average price of $153,932"

$245,900 x 1.587% = $3,902 average west end household tax bill
$212,191 x 1.587% = $3,367 average mountain household tax bill
$167,885 x 1.587% = $2,664 average east end household tax bill
$153,932 x 1.587% = $2,442 average downtown household tax bill

How can anyone say that the people paying the least amount of property taxes are the ones getting screwed over? How is that possible? Perhaps instead of basing taxes on the value of properties, the city should charge everybody the same tax, regardless of how much their house is worth.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted July 12, 2009 at 18:24:43

"Perhaps instead of basing taxes on the value of properties, the city should charge everybody the same tax, regardless of how much their house is worth."

.. and base it on what? The value of the largest mansion in the city? So that granny in her tiny bungalow is getting ripped off? Or do we base it on the value of granny's place, so that the rich in the biggest homes get a free ride? Or how about somewhere in the middle - say, the value of A Smith's home - so that you pay exactly what you owe, and granny only gets "kinda" ripped off and the fat cats only get "kinda" a free ride?

You are off your rocker.

"The truth is, both inner residents and suburban residents receive services, although the value of these is unknown. However, what we do know and what can be shown with REAL NUMBERS, is that inner city residents pay much less, more than 50% less in property taxes than new homeowners do. All you have to back up your arguments are guesstimates, not strong enough to be taken seriously. "

So let's straighten this all out for everyone.

It's OK for you to make up your own assumptions in your head about the "unknown" value of these services - allowing you to easily "determine" that downtown residents are getting way more than they pay for.

The rest of us, however, must back up every word with a number. We aren't allowed to point out the common sense notion of the much higher cost to service people who live in developments that occupy many more acres per person than their downtown counterparts? We have to prove numerically that collecting garbage on a 300 foot stretch containing 15 homes is cheaper than on a 300 foot stretch containing 5 homes. Because parked cars might be getting in the way. We forgot to account for that.

"Show me actual numbers that detail the cost breakdown of servicing each community, how much is paid in taxes, otherwise your whole argument that inner city residents are getting screwed over is based on nothing but your opinion."

Show me actual numbers that detail the cost breakdown of servicing each community, how much is paid in taxes, otherwise your whole argument that new suburban residents are getting screwed over is based on nothing but your opinion.

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By JonC (registered) | Posted July 12, 2009 at 19:23:00

When I said you should reread the article, I meant that the word tax isn't used in the article or Jason's commentary on the article. So when you say "when you write an article implying that these same people, who pay the least $$/year in taxes, are being screwed over by people who pay 50% more $$/year in taxes, it strikes me as both inaccurate and unfair" you are 100% off base as the article isn't about that at all. I guess when I said that you should reread the article, I meant that you should reread the article. You will notice a pattern in your behaviour where you believe everything is about the same, one thing.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted July 12, 2009 at 19:39:15

seancb >> and base it on what?

I bring up the idea of every property paying the same tax bill, regardless of housing value, simply to show the insanity of how government works. Regardless of how Jason or the rest of you feel about sprawl, I'm sure the sprawl people feel the exact same way about downtown residents, that they subsidize you.

The point is, without numbers to show how much each person pays versus how much they receive, all of our opinions are equally irrelevant. I admit that. I am speaking from only one side of the equation, the cost side, without truly knowing how much suburbanites receive. But so are you. You can't accurately tell me how much downtown residents receive in benefits, because government doesn't charge people for what they use. It could be that they receive 50% more than you think or 50% less, no one really knows.

>> It's OK for you to make up your own assumptions in your head about the "unknown" value of these services ... The rest of us, however, must back up every word with a number.

I am not the one writing an article on how sprawl is being subsidized by the rest of the city. Therefore, the burden of proof doesn't lie with me, it's up to you to provide numbers accurately showing how Hamilton residents are getting less and paying more. All that Jason did in this article was to declare that this is the case and appeal to our common sense.

Perhaps Jason can find out from City Hall how man hours are distributed across the city, because as I stated before, employee costs make up the lion's share of people's tax bill. If these numbers showed that city employees spend a disproportionate amount of time in suburban areas, then I would likely agree with his theory.

>> otherwise your whole argument that new suburban residents are getting screwed over is based on nothing but your opinion.

I am not making the argument that suburban homes subsidize inner city residents. I don't have the numbers to prove that, or even suggest that with any confidence. All I am doing is throwing doubt on your numerically challenged assumptions. Jason is making the argument that suburban homes hurt city finances, but what if he's wrong. Doesn't it make sense to quantify this with numbers before making decisions that may actually hurt city finances, rather than help them.

It would appear that many people on this site are not so much interested in the truth, as they are in promoting their beliefs. That's fine, but please don't try to sell these personal biases as factual, or having any basis in reality. Without numbers to back up claims over money, you can't prove who is getting the better deal, period.

Could we all agree that this argument is a draw?

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By Enough is enough (anonymous) | Posted July 13, 2009 at 07:30:28

No, not a draw. Just an asinine waste of bandwidth.

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By JonC (registered) | Posted July 13, 2009 at 10:55:01

The current system is obviously fair as the free market has determined the taxes that people are willing to pay for their homes.

Also, winner of the pot calling the kettle black award goes to...... "It would appear that many people on this site are not so much interested in the truth, as they are in promoting their beliefs"

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted July 13, 2009 at 11:57:17

Enough is enough >> No, not a draw. Just an asinine waste of bandwidth.

I agree, I was just offering a draw because I felt sorry for Jason and the rest of these amateur urban planners. It's obvious that without numbers to detail exactly how much each area of the city receives versus how much they pay, no accurate conclusion can be reached.

JonC >> The current system is obviously fair as the free market has determined the taxes that people are willing to pay for their homes.

Great, JonC thinks the current system is fair, therefore leave development fees where they are. I am glad we agree.

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By JonC (registered) | Posted July 13, 2009 at 14:53:13

And A Smith disagrees with himself "I have already stated that ALL infrastructure built as a direct result of new communities should be paid for by those communities alone"

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted July 14, 2009 at 18:37:59

One thing that would help the lower city far more than a few extra bucks for development fees, would be to finally get rid of the industrial blight that is Hamilton's waterfront. While heavy, dirty, ugly industry used to provide lots of jobs, today it produces far less in taxes and employment opportunities, but is as ugly as it's ever been.

Does anyone else think that Hamilton's waterfront could provide more value to the city if it were transitioned to recreational, residential, light commercial uses rather than what we have today. I can't imagine that if instead of industry along the waterfront, there were new housing developments (many high rise/condos) that it wouldn't lift property values (all across the lower city) 20-30% overnight. Any thoughts?

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