They are going to have their hands deeper into your pockets forever and ever. Hospital levy will not end.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  November 14, 2012   Mayor Rick Goldring got the surprise of his life, when he learned that the province expected him to come up with $60 million to pay for a portion of the re-build of the Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital.  In the old days, when Goldring was getting his tonsils taken out at JBMH, health care was a provincial matter.

Paid for by 2018 – they promise you that. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t going to end the hospital levy in 2018. Taxpayers are going to be the gift that keeps on giving.

Times do change.  The city sucked it up and looked at its taxpayers and said: we have to hit you for $60 million, but we are going to have a great hospital, when this is all said and done.  The fact that the new Family Medical centre and the parking garage are being built on a flood plain, doesn’t seem to factor into how “great” that hospital is going to be.

Those numbers above are your dollars.  It represents the amount the city gives to the hospital to pay for building the additions. While the city is collecting a special hospital levy from you now – they tuck that into a bank account and earn interest.  At some point the city has to borrow money to make the payments.

No matter – the good people of Burlington sucked it up and told every polling organization that chose to ask them that the hospital was THE top priority.  That the JBMH Foundation also had to come up with their $60 million seemed to make it all a little easier to bear.

Here is what this means – the number that matters is on the far right.  For every $100,000 of assessment value on your home you will pay an amount ranging from $4.28 to as high as $14.98.  That’s just what it is going to cost to re-build the hospital that everyone says they want. Continuing to take what started out as hospital levy money after the hospital is built and paid for is what might seem unfair or misleading to taxpayers.  The tax levy column, second from the right, isn’t as clear as it might have been.  It should read – Tax levy in millions.

Learning too that the cost came down to a paltry $3.99  for every $100,000 of assessment on your house made it sound like easy credit.  That $3.99 does balloon to $7.49 then to $11.24 and up as high as $14.98 –  but those are just details.  By the year 2028, when we are assured the Pier will be finished, the hospital will be paid for and we can all visit our family members who are being cared for in a state of the art medical facility.

Not so fast, my Mother used to say as I was scooting out the door to find some mischief.

Do you know why they’re smiling? It isn’t because Santa Claus is coming soon. They figured out a way to continue taking the special hospital construction levy out of your pockets. If you managed to pull off a stunt like that you too would be smiling.

Turns out that the Significant Seven that serve as your Council are not going to lift that hospital levy come 2028.  It will just get rolled over and become part of what you pay in taxes every year.

Call it a sneaky tax grab if you want.  Call it misleading the taxpayers, which is what at least one Council member thought of the plan.  Councillor Sharman, who positions himself as one of the better financial minds on Council did say that “rather than give it back (the hospital levy) we are going to re-assign it.

Say what you wish.  By the time 2028 rolls around none of the rascals who put their hands even deeper into your pockets will be on this earth and with one exception, probably not even on Council.  They expect to be able to get away with it.

Is it fair?  No – they should be telling you or even better they should be asking you if this is the way you want to be taxed.  They won’t ask you directly but, come the next election – you might want to ask a question or two as to how they think they can pull this one off.


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