What are Patrick Brown and Linda Jeffrey saying about Brampton Finances and Economy?
When it comes down to people’s everyday lives, no matter what it is they are going through, it always goes back to money…as in whether one can afford to do certain things or not.
The same rule applies for city governments: they have only a finite amount of resources to pay for all the services and programs they provide. And who is making those decisions when it comes to spending, as well as economic growth that will lead to more revenues for said spending, is crucially important.
During this mayoral race in Brampton, there has been much attention paid to the incumbent mayor, Linda Jeffrey, as well as the man perceived to be her primary challenger, former Ontario PC party leader Patrick Brown.
Jeffrey’s reelection campaign recently sent out a press release outlining her financial policy, while also highlighting the Brampton mayor’s accomplishments over the last four years when it comes to taxes and the economy.
“In 2014 I was elected with a strong mandate to clean up the financial mess of Brampton City Hall. A lot of progress has been made in this past term to ensure real transparency and accountability in handling your money. We are on track to providing long-term, predictable budgets that deliver the infrastructure and services that Bramptonians need for a growing and prospering city. I will continue to fight against wasteful spending that brings little benefit to the city,” the press release said.
Some of the accomplishments Jeffrey said she got done include:
Fought against the taxpayer funded Riverstone golf course and Brampton Beast purchases that provide little return for taxpayers.
Removed 25 senior bureaucrats, making City Hall more efficient (Cutting Waste).
Brampton’s credit rating went from Triple AAA- to Triple A Stable; saved thousands of dollars in interest costs.
Brought in external auditors to reveal the alarming status of Brampton’s finances from “the previous councils’ mismanagement.”
Revamped the city’s procurement policy to provide transparency.
Introduced changes to modernize budgeting practices to ensure accountability from staff, contain costs and focus on a good long-term financial strategy. Ensured that rates for future budgets were posted on three-year increments.
Made the budget process more accessible by including more public input, conducting tele-town halls, and making budget documents more easily-accessible online for residents.
The Mayor outlined her focus going forward in terms of Brampton’s finances:
Continue to hold the line on property taxes.
Continue to find areas to save money through efficiencies.
Provide stability and predictability. Continue to build up sufficient reserve funds to ensure prudent long-term financial planning and to avoid unexpected changes to the tax base.
Maintain the infrastructure levy at current levels so we can plan future infrastructure needs without overburdening current and future taxpayers.
While she has a financial plan that she’s putting forward, Jeffrey has also touted more long term future goals such as the Ryerson university campus as a key component of bringing in more business.
Meanwhile, Brown has not only been visiting various communities and residents across the city, he has been in press conferences releasing details on his policies on everything from dealing with traffic gridlock and having safer communities to economic growth.
Brown has been especially aggressive on his platform pertaining to taxes and the economy, saying tax rates under Jeffrey have been spiralling out of control. “Property taxes under Mayor Jeffrey’s term of office have grown at an alarming rate, well outpacing the rate of inflation.”
“In 2017 Brampton property taxes were hiked by 3.6 per cent and, by the end of 2018, will have increased another 2.7 per cent. Our property taxes are now higher than the City of Toronto!”, declared Brown in this campaign commercial.
Brown is calling for a freeze in municipal property taxes and implementing aggressive economic development programs to grow Brampton’s industrial tax base. He has previously said he wanted to do the ‘Hazel McCallion’ approach and ‘go after investment’, giving personal tours of Brampton’s employment lands, and cutting ‘red tape’ at City Hall.
Another promise is to have the city’s Auditor General and Integrity Commissioner look at ways to strengthen their capabilities to monitor, and publicly report on, program spending in the city.
The advantage in municipal politics always goes to the incumbent, and Jeffrey is touting a record of her accomplishing what Brown is promising to do to to ‘control spending,’ but her disadvantage is that she has to go back to that familiar talking point of blaming councillors who didn’t agree with her. It’s very rare to see voters in local elections elect members to council based on what their mayor thinks. Even Hazel McCallion wasn’t able to pull that off.
Brown’s platform on finances and the economy seem very rudimentary in the sense that it’s based off the traditional small c-conservative mantra with a dash of populist rhetoric (most people are aware that Toronto’s low taxes are a GTHA anomaly). However, the former PC leader is not a Doug Ford type of populist politician, and his attempts to look like he’s ‘standing up’ for ordinary Bramptonians isn’t quite so convincing.
What do you think of Mayor Jeffrey or Patrick Brown’s ideas for taxes and the economy?
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