At a special meeting this week City Council was presented with a draft plan to expand Kingston Transit service over the next five years. The plan includes some great new initiatives, such as a new express bus route on Montreal Street, and higher frequency service on existing express bus routes – bringing the popular 501 and 502 routes to 7 1/2 minute service. However, the plan asked Council to approve an additional 0.5% annual tax increase (on top of the existing 2.5% property tax rate) in order to pay for the proposed new services.
I fully support continued investment in transit. But I also believe we need to live within our means, and in my view that means we need to keep to our goal of a maximum 2.5% increase per year.
To build a smart and livable city we must spend money on key investments in our community. That’s why I’ve supported the airport expansion, the widening of John Counter Boulevard, more affordable housing and funding increases to transit over the last few years. What’s important about these previous investments is we’ve been able to hold the line at 2.5%.
After a long night of discussion on the proposed transit plan, I was very pleased City Council voted to send the plan back to city staff to develop a new version to fit within the 2.5% tax increase. This might require delaying some of the new transit services or scaling back other changes until we can get some additional tax revenues from new growth and development in the city. But that’s how a budget should work; you stay within your limit. I vote yes to more transit investment, but no to a transit tax.