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January 15, 2002
Candidates asked where they stand on Toronto
  
TORONTO, Jan. 15 /CNW/ - Mayor Lastman today sent a series of questions on
"matters of the utmost importance to Toronto" to each of the provincial
Progressive Conservative leadership candidates and provincial Liberal Leader
Dalton McGuinty in a bid to determine where they stand on the City's future.

"I want to know their positions on these issues and I think the 2 1/2
million residents of this city do, too," said Lastman, who faxed out the
questions in advance of Thursday's debate because he will be in Vancouver for a
meeting of the C5.

"Toronto is at a critical point in its short history. It's vital that the next
Premier of Ontario recognizes our City's unique needs and addresses them
accordingly."

The Mayor said he hopes to have replies back from each of the would-be premiers
within a week and added the results will be given to members of Toronto City
Council as they come in.

Questions for Conservative leadership Candidates

1. The Provincial Auditor has concluded that the Local Services
Realignment exercise was not revenue neutral as promised by your government. If
elected Premier would you commit to make it revenue neutral?

2. Historically the Provincial government funded 75% of the Toronto
Transit Commission capital budget and 50% of the operating budget. In 1998 this
funding was completely eliminated. In 2002 the province will return to TTC
funding with its commitment to pay 1/3 of the capital budget for the next 10
years. If elected would you increase this funding and return it to historical
levels?

3. Many provinces and states have a deposit return system in place to
reduce the amount of garbage that goes to landfill. Would you support a deposit
return system for the LCBO?

4. For every one litre of gasoline sold in Ontario, the provincial
government collects almost 15 cents. It is estimated that every cent of taxes
levied on a litre of gasoline raises revenues between $19 million and $28
million. In the GTA, each cent per litre would generate annual revenues ranging
from $47 million to $53 million. Montreal's Agence Metropolitaine de Transport
(AMT) is partially funded by a 1.5 cent/litre gas tax (total raised: $47
million). Greater Vancouver's TransLink (Vancouver Regional Transit System) is
partially funded by a 4 cent/litre gas tax (total raised: $79 million). Public
transit in the U.S. is receiving 2.8 cents per gallon (0.7 cents/litre) from
gas taxes to reduce deficits (Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century).
It is estimated that American transit systems will receive more than $29
billion from
gas taxes over the next five years. Different U.S. states collect
different tax rates: The state of Michigan collects 19 cents per gallon gas tax
and diverts 1.5 cents to a Comprehensive transportation Fund. The state of
Florida diverts 8.8 cents per gallon to a Transportation Trust Fund. New York
State provides subsidies to transit systems based on the Petroleum Business
Tax. The tax is measured by the quantity of various petroleum products refined
or sold in the state or imported for sale or use in the state. The state
collects approximately 10 cents per gallon. Do you support municipalities
receiving a portion of the existing gasoline tax?

5. Municipal taxing powers have generally been restricted to property
taxes. In addition, provinces have given municipalities the authority to raise
money by user fees: i.e. charges for services. Some cities, however, have
access to other types of revenue. For example, Calgary and Edmonton are
receiving a road infrastructure grant based on fuel consumption in their
cities. In addition, the Vancouver and Winnipeg tri-partite agreements give
those cities some access to additional funding for specific problems from the
two levels of government. Do you support a new source of revenue for Toronto?

6. I want to make Toronto the safest city in North America. What steps
would you take to make Toronto a safer city? Do you support Toronto's Enhanced
Emergency Plan and will you commit to fund (a) 1/3 of the cost of new plan and
(b) more police officers on the streets?

7. Toronto is the economic engine of Ontario and Canada. We contribute
over $4 billion more in taxes to the senior levels of government than they
invest in Toronto. What actions as Premier would you take to recognize the
special needs of Toronto?

8. Housing and shelter support has become the number two cost to the
property tax payer. Do you support the removal of public housing from the
property tax base and to return it to being a provincial and
federal responsibility?

9. In an economic downturn the cost of welfare can skyrocket and Toronto
is already paying more than its fair share on a percentage basis. Will you
fully fund the province's portion of Toronto's welfare costs - and do you
support a cap on welfare expenditures by municipalities?

10. Toronto has launched a charter city campaign. Do you support a new
charter for Toronto that enshrines this city's rights as a third
order of government?


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