"Cowardice asks the question...is it safe? Expediency asks the question...is it politic? Vanity asks the question...is it popular? But conscience asks the question...is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because it is right." ~Dr. Martin Luther King

Thursday 15 August 2013

Mystique of Development Charges

It's more complicated than it seems Municipalities have to justify the amount they take from developers. First we have to have Master Plans that set out what the new needs will be to serve the new population that results from the new development. Then we take it at the time applications for building permits are made. To justify taking it, we have to spend it for the purpose we said it was needed. Every five years we re-calculate the amount the Development Charge needs to be for upcoming needs. We can't charge for th same thing twice. And if we didn't use it for the purpose we said we needed it the first time, we can;t charge for it again. So, we have to use it or lose it. Timing becomes a factor. Funding from development charges to pay for a facility are a sure thing. Timing of development is not. Planning a facility from start to finish can be unpredictable. Bringing all things to-gether can be tricky. It means sometimes proceeding with a project before the funding is in the kitty. It doesn't mean the funding isn't forth-coming. Borrowing from the Cash-in-Lieu Reserve is always legitimate Even using CIL funds is appropriate. Cash in Lieu Reserve has not been less than $11 million in the last ten years. It's money we take in lieu of parkland. For example,when Canadian Tire built their last addition, we took cash-in-lieu instead of making them provide a park. Don't ask me why Canadian Tire's expanded business would make a park necessary. It's just another cash grab. But the government lets us do it. So, we do. And we can always use the money. Except that we don't. We've been stashing it for years. Anyway, it can be used for the Youth space until applicable DC funds come in. When we sold Hydro, we never intended the money to be stashed in a reserve fund. The intent was to replace Hydro asset with an asset of equal value. Something we would never be able to justify adding to the tax burden. Never again would we be likely to have such a sum available. We should put our heads together and come up with a facility the community could enjoy years into the future. Like a Culture Centre with a Foundation. Hydro was key to Ontario's development. It made the Province one of the better places to live in the world. We should try to make that happen again in Aurora. We sold Hydro in 2006. We have had two new Councils since. Still nothing. And don't talk to me about a real estate deal that would take valuable Yonge Street properties off the assessment roll for some cockamamie,half-assed idea of a Heritage Disneyland North. Any more questions?


Anonymous said...

Yeah, I've got a question. Um, don't we already have one of these?:

"We should put our heads together and come up with a facility the community could enjoy years into the future. Like a Culture (sic) Centre..."

Anonymous said...

I have no problem with a plan being presented properly to Aurorans so that they can participate & watch the creation. It's this sneaky stuff about already fast-tracted projects getting shoved down our throats without any warning. Ie the suddenly much more expensive repairs to the Leisure Centre and those 2 old houses.
as for 12:11
That's an old fight. The Centre is there to serve the Centre. It will never contribute anything to the bottom line. This council made sure of that.

Anonymous said...

The Center [ sic ] will always be a Cuckoo. Residents did not raise money or work together to provide it with a free building and ongoing funding for posterity.

Anonymous said...

1. For what period of time is the present Master Plan? It seems to me that such a plan should be constantly rolling forward annually in order to more accurately reflect building activity, i.e. applications for building permits, and to match such revenue with projected capital expenditure.

During the past five years there has been a major economic upheaval that has impacted housing, especially in the US and UK where financing virtually dried up and home prices plummeted; thousands of homes were actually abandoned. And this when interest rates reached the lowest point ever in some countries, making mortgages more affordable. In conjunction with this housing crunch occurred a serious recession. Canada was not as badly affected. This could have had a significant effect on Master Plans and revenue projections.

2. "Use it or lose it" seems to result in spending what we don't yet have but which we will receive some day, and in the meantime there are funds in Reserve Accounts that can be used to bridge things over, i.e. cash-in-lieu.

3. Cash-in-lieu according to your comment: "It's just another cash grab. But the government lets us do it. So, we do. And we can always use the money. EXCEPT THAT WE DON'T. WE'VE BEEN STASHING IT FOR YEARS. And it has never been less than $11million in the last ten years.

4. Using Hydro Fund money on which the town will not pay interest when interest is presently being earned confuses me. Why would the town not pay itself interest in return for borrowing its own money?

5. Or are the proposed investment projects life-changers for Aurora?

From having watched council meetings I really don't think this council is capable to making these kinds of decision. They will probably be referred to staff who will recommend studies and professional consultants, all of this ultimately falling by the wayside, and at a very substantial dollar cost with nothing to show for it other than some pretty pictures and hundreds of bound pages.

Anonymous said...

I don't know where to put this as it is off-topic:
; The Star has instituted a pay wall in order to try & recoup losses over the past few quarters. My question would be if anyone thinks that paper will be missed by those who get their daily news on the Internet & printed versions. Not?

Anonymous said...

The Canadian Tire store evolution has always troubled me. In speaking with a councillor at the time, it was my impression that CTC was allowed to only build a store a certain size but told that they could then apply later for an addition.

What this also meant is that the Town could go to the well twice for DCs on the same address.

I think it is unfair to double-dip on a retail operation that provides a tax source as well as provided jobs to residents.

Wy CTC went ahead with it is anyone's guess. I guess they did no have very good lawyers.

Anonymous said...

12:57, "The Centre" is there to serve the community - which it does admirably on a limited budget. *That* is the bottom line...

Anonymous said...

" to serve the community " ? Surely you jest ? They serve themselves & loose prospective councillors at strategic intervals. There is no financial benefit to Aurora. Talk again when they appear to say that they are moving towards self sufficiency.

Anonymous said...

18:52, I think you're confusing serving the community - in this case, providing contracted cultural services - with some sort of widget factory. We're not talking about a business - nothing provided with Town funding is, is it?

BTW, what cultural institution do you know that is self-sufficient? If you want to talk, you should talk to Cllr Thompson, as he's well-acquainted with this particular sector.

Anonymous said...

You sound like Oscar Wilde's definition of a cynic, 18:52; “A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing."