Fifty years ago, municipalities were responsible for funding basic services, including water and sewage systems, roads and basic infrastructure. Today, those issues are coupled with affordable housing shortages, regulating the shared economy, and expanding and replacing aging infrastructure. The question of how local governments respond was the focus of the Harry Kitchen Lecture on April 10, 2018 delivered by Dr. Enid Slack, director of the Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto.
While property taxes remain steady, and transfers from the provincial and federal governments are tied to specific deliverables, cities and towns can better respond to the needs of their communities by implementing user-fees for many services, argued Professor Slack. The benefits of this are two-fold. Not only do municipalities increase revenues to pay for special projects when residents pay for the services they use, like street parking, water, and waste disposal; consumption rates tend to drop, resulting in less water usage, residential waste and traffic congestion.
“From a biology perspective, attending an economics policy lecture was really interesting. Are there ways environmentalists can better work with local governments to implement programs, like free compost and recycling, but fees for garbage, to better manage resources and waste?” said Jess Badenberk, a fourth-year Biology and Environmental Science student who attended the lecture.
The Harry Kitchen Lecture in Public Policy was created in recognition of Professor Emeritus Harry Kitchen, upon his retirement from Trent University’s Economics Department in 2007.