Before we go any further into the debate over taxation levels in London and what changes should be made to next year’s budget,there are 2 very important questions that need to be answered by our mayor and his supporters on council.
1. What are “core services”?
Mayor Fontana has promised that any cuts to spending would not affect core services, but he has been reluctant to define what those services are. We need to know what services he has classified as “core services” so that we can have a better understanding of what’s being proposed, and have clear expectations. Are libraries core services? Garbage collection? Policing? If we don’t get a clear definition now, it will be very difficult to hold the mayor and his supporters accountable after the fact.
2. Why isn’t the mayor’s plan working?
The promise of a 4-year tax freeze was built upon the assumption that the mayor and city council would be able to generate enough revenue through new development to offset the normal, yearly increase in costs. It hasn’t worked for the first two years, so why should we expect that Mayor Fontana’s plan will start working next year? Are the bulk of his promised 10 000 jobs about to arrive secretly in our city in the next few months? There is very little room to further entice or subsidize new development. Even ignoring all of the rules and processes concerning development won’t create the building boom the mayor dreams of, or leave our city in good shape for the long-term. It’s time to look for a new strategy.