Niagara Falls Coun. Victor Pietrangelo wants it plain and clear just how much money taxpayers are saving as a result of the city’s OLG contract.
He said the feeling by a lot of residents is that the city receives a lot of money from OLG, yet they don't actually see the benefits.
Part of the problem, he said, is people simply don’t receive the figures on their tax bills to tell them just how much money is being subsidized.
That figure is around $6 million which goes into the city’s operating budget annually.
“Somewhere along the way that fact gets lost,” he said. “The fact that taxes are subsidized — and to the tune of $6 million.”
“I don't believe residence actually had the benefit of opening up their tax bill one year and saying 'wow, look at that — the amount of tax that I pay is reduced because the city has this agreement with the OLG.’”
Pietrangelo motioned council to come up with a plan to communicate the subsidy to residents and land owners so they can better understand the amount that the OLG subsidizes the city’s budget.
“If you step back and you say, okay so there's $6 million annually that's going into our operating budget that subsidizes taxes. If you think of that from a tax increase perspective, $6 million represents anywhere in between nine and 10 per cent,”
He said that means people are saving around 10 per cent of their tax bills as a result of the OLG contract with the city.
“To me, that's a lot of money. Someone that's paying $2,000 a year is saving $200. You can do the math for anyone else.”
Todd Harrison, the city’s director of finance, said the city would not be able to include the numbers directly on tax bills, as they're provincially legislated.
Council approved Pietrangelo’s motion that staff look into providing some way to show the benefits they're receiving from the OLG.
“So what do you think, we going to have an airplane flying with a big message?” Mayor Jim Diodati jested.