Bentivegna points to growing tax rate problem: his colleagues ignore it

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

May 19th, 2021



Every once in a while ward 6 Councillor Angelo Bentivegna casts a vote intended to make a point.

Angelo B

Councillor Angelo Bentivegna: thinking it through.

This time he was asking what impact changing the business model for the Tyandaga Golf Club would have on the 2022 budget – and then reminded his colleagues that the projected tax rate for 2022 was 5.25%

Council was about to pass the item as part of a collection of issues that had been pulled together as a consent item, which is council’s way of voting on a number of decisions at the same time.

Any member of Council can ask to have an item pulled from the consent list so that it can be voted separately.

Bentivegna wanted more information on just what the change in the business model would have on the tax rate.

He was told that it would likely be between .07% or .08% – which would put the 5.25% projection over 6%

Staff did their best to assure Bentivegna that the public wouldn’t see any increase in 2022 and probably not in 2023 either.  Any funds the golf course needed would be for capital items and would go on a list to be considered by the Capital expense people.

Angelo - not getting it -deferal

Ward 6 Councillor Angelo Bentivegna making a point at a council meeting.

Bentivegna’s point was that – yes it would be going on a list and at some point the public would be asked to pay.

When it came to a vote on the item Bentivegna asked that it be a recorded vote.  He was going on the record and wanted his colleagues to do the same thing.

The vote was 6-1: Bentivegna had made his point with his “no”  vote.

The public will at some point be asked to pay for capital items at the golf course.  The fear in the minds of many is that the public might be asked to pay for some of the operating costs as well.


Return to the Front page
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

13 comments to Bentivegna points to growing tax rate problem: his colleagues ignore it

  • Elan

    The problem is that Burlington’s aging tax base in incompatible with the reality of maintaining basic services and investing in the needs of a future community. Those of us here, on fixed incomes…who cares! Those who look to the future are needed, irrespective of our selfishness. 5% tax increase is modest, relatively. Check out Oakville.

    • David Barker

      I agree a 5% tax increase is modest in this day and age. If one wants excellent services then one has ro pay for them.

      Elan, you use a phrase “fixed income”, which is a phrase that I dislike. By your use of it you imply that some people are not on a fixed income. I would like to know who those people are. When I worked for an employer I received a salary; that was my fixed income. When I was self employed and I received money from my company; that was my fixed income. Now that I am retired I take money from my savings; that is my fixed income.

      Please explain.

      Another currently over used phrase, particularly by government and media is “shots in the arm”. Do they think they are being cool or do they just think the great unwashed population would not comprehend the meaning of such big words as vaccination or inoculation?

  • Denise W.

    Thinking about it. Gold must be expensive by nature. Considering the amount of land used and the number of people that can use it in one day. Seasonal use only. The costs must be huge. Can’t really equate this to ice rinks and the like.

    How do other golf courses manage. They seem to stay in business and even pay income and property taxes. With a purely “user pay” business model. It needs to be run like a private business, not a branch of government. For so much resources to be used by so few people, c’mon, really, the rates will need to get in line with the times, and cut a lot of expenses. Maybe it might a consideration to hire somebody with a proven track record to run this thing.

    Pouring in tax dollars is not a good plan, when the real problem might be how well (or poorly) the thing is managed. This needs to be fixed, now. And not allow the problem to grow in magnitude. It won’t magically improve over time.

    • David Barker

      I agree with you it would likely be advantageous to have professional golf course management installed. The user fees do look too low, even taking into account users have no equity position as do members at private clubs.

      Maybe investing in up-grades to the clubhouse facilities could make the location a draw for weddings and other year round banquet type events.

      As to not being comparable to ice rinks and the like because the usage numbers do not compare, I would guess residents who do not use ice rinks or soccer fields might question why they pay taxes to subsidize those operations. The answer is whilst one May not use the facilities, the facilities being there makes the city a better community. Are property owners subsidizing La Salle Park’s operations?

      At the end of the day one also has to take into account the huge intangible social and environmental value of such an asset. To keep taxes lower why has not NY built on Central Park, NY, or London on Hyde Park?. The answer is because such open spaces make our cities and world a better place than without them.

      “Joni Mitchell – Big Yellow Taxi (2021 Remaster) [Official Audio]” on YouTube

      • Denise W.

        (wow, I just saw somehow I started with “Gold”, I meant to type golf. Funny in a way.)

        Yes parks add to a city. You just can’t go walk around a golf course, as you please.

        We can have a municipal golf course. It just has to be run properly. I admit, I know little about this. At other courses there are regular membership fee increases. Assessments to members for unexpected expenses. Monthly minimums to spend or otherwise pay for food or from pro-shop. Which happens regularly. But the benefits of membership keep people there. Walk on players have limited play times and it is more crowded. So it is desirable to pay and maintain a membership. Low cost, government subsidized golf is not some right people are entitled to. Any more than we should be providing a polo field or a race car track. Polo would add to the city. Other things that build team play for youngsters are an investment in community. And cost( and land/park space) effective. Soccer, baseball, hockey…….

        Other courses can pay their way. This one can be made to also. It doesn’t need to be an exercise is socialist government. Upgrades…. I wouldn’t know, but if it needs it. Do what a business does. Make a plan and borrow the money and pay it back. This will assure the plan if viable if a bank will back it. Falling back on subsidies, not going to work. I pay about 7k for property tax, I have to earn 14k as I lose half to prov. and fed tax. Then when I spend anything I have to pay an extra 13 percent. We are taxed more than enough. Golf can, and should pay it’s own way. (Yes I am afraid that the way we are going, in 20 or 25 years we will be having problems like California, but I’m no economist and hope I am wrong.)

        Analysis, paralysis.
        We don’t need “study” and paid consultants. Just smart decisive decisions.

        • David Barker

          What you say about other courses having monthly minimum food purchases, capital expenditure assessments is true. But those courses are member owned. The members are equity members and so have a shareholding in the entire operations including the value of the land. So their green fees are on top of their annual membership fees. The membership at Tyandaga only provides one privilege that is the ability to play a certain number of rounds based upon the membership package purchased.

          It’s no good comparing Tyandaga to say Glen Abbey or Lionhead, or Rattlesnake. However, Crosswinds or Lowville might be comparable. Those are privately owned courses open to the general public. The best comparisons though would be Don Valley, Copper Creek, Streetsville Glen all of which are municipally owned.

          Sorry to hear you are having a tough time having to pay 50% income tax rate and your $7,000 in property tax on your modest abode. I guess that means your income is around $200,000. We can all relate. LOL. Just having a little fun with you.

          Being a high earner though you likely appreciate and understand banks are risk averse risk takers. They will consider lending you a dollar if you have a dollar on deposit.

          I think your original idea of bringing in professional management is the route to go. Maybe consider contracting out to the management of a local successful course like Crosswinda, or Lowville or Hidden Lake.

  • Allan H

    Philip Wooster…I like your comment on the budget process. I too , through previous commentary in this newspaper have questioned why there’s no evidence of a zero-based budgeting process at work. Well, in my humble opinion, it should be….
    You seem to be very correct about the city’s current process as my total taxes for this year have again increased considerably. As an example, my total taxes have increased in a mere 4 year span from $3,200 in 2018 to $3,500 in 2021….an increase of $300 or approx.9.5%. The city portion alone has increased by $211…. $1,335 vs $1,566. Region was $717 vs $772 now . I’m on a fixed income and dread that our elected officials may be spending our taxes on “wishes” verses real “needs”…. What about cost savings as well?

  • Denise W.

    Would be nice to put the brakes on endless tax increases. This one would have been left as a surprise one day. And then explained away that it was approved “way back when”. Everything is getting more expensive, have the fees at the golf course kept up? Shouldn’t elective activities be “user pay”. I imagine a lot of politicians would not like to deliver that news to their constituents. Would prefer for council to spend money as if they had to earn it. I’m glad he did what he did.

    Running Burlington cannot be an easy job. There are a lot of good people employed by the city in such varied positions. At every level, they need to be recognized, encouraged and thanked.

  • Tom Muir

    I sort of gave up pointing to the ever increasing City tax rate.

    But I think the Councilor may have done the right thing for the wrong reason.

    As I commented a while ago, we need any form city owned parks and open space, including golf courses. Even if they cost, they can be converted to other uses – I’m sure the staff in charge have lots of competence and ideas.

    The pandemic taught us and is still teaching us that we direly need these owned spaces – they are part of the family jewels.

  • David Barker

    I scratch my head at the reaction of both certain journalists and some residents to the possibility of the beautiful Tyandaga Golf Course being financially supported via the tax base. Those whingers and whiners beat their chests proudly at our wonderful city being named “The Best City To Live In Canada”. Those same people seem to want to have a well serviced, well managed, well appointed city, yet recoil when faced with having to pay the tab for such a city.

    The golf course, like our sports fields, like our arenas, like our swimming pools, like our community centres, like our parks (e.g. La Salle) should all be supported by the tax base. They are all city assets there for the benefit of residents and visitors. In my humble view the funding for all of these facilities should come from the tax base. Any revenues derived from such facilities just goes to mitigate the hit to the tax base.

    What reaction would there be from these whiners should the arenas or playing fields be faced with closure because how their cost might impact upon a goal to keep the tax bill within a certain arbitary and artificial limit.

    Of course, via strong fiscal management every effort must be made to keep our taxes as low as possible, but not at the expense of downgrading our City’s facilities. There is a very true saying that says:- “you pay for what you get”.

    This is not “tax and spend”, which implies irresponsible or overly lavish spending without concern for its appropriateness.

    This is a question of how to best manage and preserve a valuable asset.

    • Phillip Wooster

      David, I have noted in your numerous posts that you are a strong advocate for big government, a strong believe that government have all the answers. They don’t! We are faced in Canada with a growing public sector that somehow must be financed by increasing taxes on a private sector that has experienced a significant recession and a reduced ability to pay for those increasing taxes–“we are all in this together” has been proven to be a lie. In addition in Burlington, a growing number of seniors who live on relatively fixed incomes are being hit with not only an inflation problem, but one exacerbated by municipal tax increases that are running twice the rate of inflation.

      I’m not arguing against the provision of services and facilities to benefit the wider community, what I am arguing against is the apparent lack of any meaningful budgetary process to pay for those services. Todate, I have seen no evidence of any line-item budgetary analysis at City Hall that starts with zero-based budgeting; the prevailing policy seems to be “last year’s budget ++++”–unfortunately, this is not budgeting and it is what is leading to these unconcionable tax increases. City Hall has shown no inclination to use increased provincial and federal government to offset tax increases, just increase spending. City Hall’s attitude seems to be–if the Region and education keep the increases low, how much room does this give us to jack up the mill rate.

      • David Barker

        Wooster, you say “David, I have noted in your numerous posts that you are a strong advocate for big government, a strong believe that government have all the answers.” You are so off base in your analysis. You repeatedly read into my comments (and those of others) inferences that are just not there and attribute incorrect political positions to me. Please stop.

        Let me state for the record I am not for big government and government certainly does not have all the answers.

        What I am for is an inclusive caring society reflected in its governments. By caring I mean a society that guarantees education and medicare to all, and underpins social assistance programs that provide a safety net to the vulnerable and those in need.

        The Tyandaga Golf Course matter has absolutely nothing to do with social programs. It is about preserving a valuable city asset and not taking the short sighted right of centre approach to cash in an asset for a short term fiscal gain, which will be lost in a few years and which makes this city culturally, environmentally and asset poorer.

        How you or anyone can think our City’s finances can remain unaffected by ever increasing costs imposed on it by suppliers, its payroll, its general costs is beyond belief. The City suffers in the same manner as do you and I from rising prices.

        Whether one is in employment or, like me, a retired senior, we are all on fixed incomes. As a retired senior I am very watchful of my expenses. So I do not just shrug my shoulders when my property taxes go up as you would imply. Like everyone else I grin and bear it provided the services being delivered remain of good value.

        As said “you pay for what you get”. Keeping the tax rate unchanged or even maybe lowering it means reduced services both in scope and quality. That’s not what I want. Maybe you would be happy with monthly garbage pick up; closed arenas, closed soccer fields.

        Wooster, that’s it. No more interaction with you on this.
        Enjoy the long weekend.

  • Phillip Wooster

    I’m certainly glad that at least one councillor took a stand against the profligate tax and spenders who dominate this municipal government. We will remember them at election time.