A tighter look at what your tax dollars are spent on

By Pepper Parr

November 5th, 2021



Budget building is an art and a dance that involves Staff and the members of Council.

Staff understand how municipalities work.  They don’t have a bottom line that they have to meet – they do strive to provide great service – but they need funds to do that – and they aren’t shy about asking.

Set out below are the services the city performs.

How much of your tax dollars go to each of the services. That data is also available. Do you feel you are getting value for the tax dollars spent delivering that service to you?

Notice that they talk in terms of millions of dollars

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3 comments to A tighter look at what your tax dollars are spent on

  • Lawson Hunter

    Greg, It’s very simple. Look at the HUGE amount of money that’s spent on road maintenance, traffic control, signage, enforcement, accident cleanup (fire dept., police, ambulance), traffic operations management, parking, road design, snow removal. All so that people can drive one-person per car. What a waste. What price do you put on efficiency? What price do you put on cleaner air? What price do you put on 2.45 million fewer cars on the road? Please check your math – $24 million budget for Transit. By your calculations at 2.45 million riders – that’s less than $10 per ride. And don’t forget the $6.5 million in revenue that Transit brings in. Sure, buses use the same roads (a fraction of the number of roads and a fraction of the time).
    In a city that let’s developers do traffic studies at peak hours, we still get people fixated on watching ’empty buses’ late at night and say, “see, I told you – doesn’t make sense”. If the City ever achieves it’s goal of 7% (rather than the current 3%) of ‘modal split’ taking transit – the costs will go down even further. That’s a good investment in my mind. P.S. a good chunk of capital cost is covered by Federal grants.

  • Greg S

    Thanks, Pepper.

    Zeroing in a bit, the money spent on Transit in Burlington is pretty staggering to me when put it this way.

    I looked up total rides. It’s dated, but in 2019 2.45 million rides were provided. If that’s the same today, probably less because of COVID (and not likely a temporary reduction), that’s ~$22 per ride operating cost. That’s before a HUGE capital investment.

    How is this making sense for Burlington?

    • Philip Waggett

      Greg, good observation on transit in Burlington. My observation on transportation is that the choice made by residents will be decided by two criteria–convenience and time. In a community like Burlington, time is a very valuable commodity, too valuable to be spent on excessive time loss during transportation. Whether it be going shopping, running errands, going to appointments, or taking the kids to various activities, people leading active lives simply don’t have time to waste. In my specific case, there is no bus to my local store (2 minute drive) and to go to the Burlington Centre a drive which takes about 8 minutes, will take over 45 minutes to reach by bus (after walking nearly 15 minutes to the bus stop and then hoping i don’t miss the bus). Want to know which one I’m taking? And I suspect that it’s this way for most Burlington residents that have transportation options–any wonder that the buses run way below capacity occupancy? I would bet that none of the politicians in Burlington advocating for increased public transit within Burlington use that transit for the same reasons I’ve indicated.

      I’m not addicted to my car. If I go to a game at Scotiabank Arena, I take the GO-train from Appleby Station. Why? It’s convenient (a short drive) and the most time efficient method of going to the game. If I’m in London, England, I use public transit all the time. Once again, it’s the most time efficient method of getting around and highly convenient given the multiplicity of public transit options available in a major city.

      So why are our politicians so fixated on public transit? It doesn’t appear to be meeting a pressing need of the residents of Burlington. But it does appear to be an exercise in virtue-signaling–a very expensive exercise, as part of the optics of a “green Burlington”.