The St. Catharine's city budget is increasing 1.12 per cent, even after transferring $13.5 million in transit costs to Niagara Region.
This combined with the Region’s proposed 9.4 per cent increase should give regional Chair Jim Bradley and Premier Doug Ford’s commissioner who is supposed to modernize Niagara something to think about.
City councilors seem to think their budget increase is entirely separate from the Region’s and they miss the connection.
The taxpayer gets one bill. The double direct city/regional councilor model used by Oakville and Burlington of Halton Region forces at least half of city councilors to vote on the Regional budget as well as the city budget, so there is no passing the buck.
Durham Region and Halton also elect the chair at large by general vote and all regional councilors sit on a city council within those Regions. They are fully aware and responsible for both Regional spending and city spending.
These are better governance models than what Niagara has, at least when it comes to budgets and taxes.
Chair Bradley and the modernizing governance commissioner should consider this budget problem as they draft a recommendation for Ford. Modernizing Niagara’s governance should solve this budgeting issue one way or another.