Comment 28838

By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted February 19, 2009 at 17:19:53

Ryan, Sean, JonC, do we all agree that depressed property values in Hamilton are a sign of lack of interest in the city?

If we do, then however we can increase them, short of allowing people starve or freeze to death is what we need to do.

One way to do that is to look at cities with higher property values and see what they are doing. Both Burlington and Oakville have higher property values than we do, have lower tax rates then we do and also have less transit than we do. Toronto has lower tax rates than we do, but more transit. Therefore, as far as I can tell, the common denominator in these "more in demand" communities are lower tax rates and not things like transit. Furthermore, having lower tax rates does not necessarily lower government spending per capita, because reducing the costs of owning property increases its underlying value.

Therefore, a reasonable person has to assume that maybe, just maybe, having higher tax rates is hurting demand for Hamilton property. If this is a possibility, which the evidence suggests it is, why not take small incremental steps towards lowering them?

The city has already been using 5 year tax grants with much success, so there is evidence that cutting tax bills does stimulate investment and adds to city coffers. I would simply like to see these incentives broadened to all properties in the city and to make them even sweeter for would be investors in our community.

The market is what it is and it doesn't lie. What it is telling us is that Hamilton is not in demand. We have tried the high tax approach for decades, the city has seen businesses flee and yet we still charge businesses and individuals more than our richer neighbours.

Hamilton used to provide businesses with cheap electricity and many believe this was a major incentive for businesses to locate here. If this is true, then why don't we give businesses incentives again. Lower their tax rates to less than 2% and there is no doubt that we will see more investment and more good paying jobs in the city. The alternative is to keep our rates higher than other communities and watch them grow rich while we continue to rust away.

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