Those who suffered most during last summer’s bitter civic strike in Vancouver – ordinary residential taxpayers – will benefit least from savings the city realized after the 12-week stoppage in public services.
Last July, City Council passed a motion “…that any tax savings incurred in this labour dispute be used to reduce property taxes for City taxpayers in 2008."
A report going to the February 12 meeting of Vancouver City Council now outlines how $11.8 million in savings will be rebated to taxpayers. The owner of a $700,000 house will receive only a $40 break on their 2008 taxes, while a similarly valued business will save $220 – five times more.
The report notes that while most businesses could contract for private trash pick-up during the strike, homeowners had to endure piles of rotting garbage in city lanes and streets. Vancouver was the only Metro municipality that suffered extended service cuts. Other Lower Mainland cities managed to reach agreements with their workers – and thus averted major disruptions.
"For three months Vancouver homeowners and tenants were denied services because Mayor Sam Sullivan mismanaged the strike," said COPE Cllr David Cadman. "Now those same residents are not even getting a fair share of strike savings.
"Sullivan and the NPA shifted a bigger share of taxes onto residential homeowners while freezing business taxes. So now instead of the biggest rebate going to those who suffered most from piled up garbage, closed community centres and shut libraries – ordinary homeowners and tenants – they are instead getting the least. It’s not fair."
The report also says that only property owners, even if they don’t live in Vancouver, and even if they didn’t own property at the time of the strike, will enjoy a tax break. Renters, meanwhile, get nothing.
"During next month’s public hearings on the 2008 Budget I expect Council will hear from angry taxpayers," said Cadman.  "In the two and a half years that Sullivan has been mayor, residential taxpayers have been hit with a cumulative 15 percent tax hike. And now Sullivan isn’t even giving them a fair tax rebate.
"I am prepared to move a motion during the upcoming budget debate to reallocate the rebate so that ordinary taxpayers get the break they deserve."

Taxpayers not getting fair share of strike rebate.

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