• Edmonton Ward 6 Candidate > Bryan Kapitza

    New Ideas

    We all know of the challenges that our city faces: urban sprawl, unresponsive government, a deteriorating downtown.
    The citizens of Edmonton expect their elected representatives to be offer innovative and visionary solutions to these problems.

    Here are a few ideas that I see as having significant benefit to our communities.

    Property Tax Reform

    Presently our taxes are based on the value of our land and on the improvements on that land, i.e., the value of our houses and other structures. It makes no sense to tax somebody for improving their property. We want people to improve their property. Our taxes should be based on the value of what the community provides to that property. We should set taxes in relation to value of the roadway, sidewalk, light standards, sewers, waterlines etc.. For most home owners there would be little difference between their present tax bill and that under the new system. The big benefit would be derived from taxing away the economic advantage, i.e., unearned income, in derelict or vacant lots. In this case the land owner could only make money by placing an improvement on the land such as a house or business. If the landowner continues to hold the land without making an improvement his gain from speculation is quickly eroded by the increase in taxes that come about through the new method of assessment. As an additional benefit, there would be no need for taxpayers to assume risk by borrowing money through a Community Revitalization Levy in order to stimulate growth in challenged areas of the city. Revitalization, under this new taxation system, results from improvements undertaken by existing land owners.

    Sustaining Urban Renewal thru Micro-Fianncing

    Large urban renewal initiatives such the Boyle Street Renaissance Project will certainly contribute to the rehabilitation of stressed neighbourhoods. Such projects, however, are only part of the solution to urban decline. We need an approach that enables individuals to invest in building their communities as well. The City, in cooperation with other key stakeholders, needs develop a comprehensive Micro-Financing strategy. Micro-financing allows low income entrepreneurs to borrow small amounts of money to launch new business and contribute to the economic development of their communities. Presently, local micro-financing is fragmented and underdeveloped. Cooperation between public benefit agencies, government and traditional lenders will improve outreach, bring clients and capital together, cut administration costs and reduce risk. Instead of continually relying on raising and investing hundreds of millions of dollars in large-scale renewal projects, we can augment and sustain renewal by providing access to small loans and empowering our citizens. A series of small successes can and will lead to a large success.

    Efficient Government

    Our City is organized along the lines of a traditional vertical corporation. Vertical corporations concern themselves with controlling capital, not with providing efficient service. We need to break apart our archaic silos of control and reorganize City services along the lines of value streams in order to achieve the best return for each tax dollar spent. Value streams cut across departmental lines and are designed to achieve a particular value-oriented goal. If our goal is to promote public safety, then we require co-operation between numerous city departments, including, but not limited to, EMS, fire, police, bylaw enforcement, and traffic safety. Similarly, if our goal is to improve infrastructure, then we require co-operation between planning, roadways, water and sewer, gas and electricity. In these new horizontal organizations, technical expertise, operational control and financial control are separated. Each department contributes resources towards achieving a well-defined goal, but department heads act solely as technical experts and report to a new “value manager” who is responsible for achieving the overall community goal. Formerly isolated departments, instead of looking after their own interests, financial or political, are now required to co-operate with one another. Department heads continue to have input into budget preparation, but are no longer in a position where they have to spend their entire budget or lose the unspent portion the next year. The new and separate “value stream budget officer” would continually evaluate performance against measurable results and allocate funding on the basis of merit towards achieving the value oriented goal. The end result is cost effective, efficient delivery of services that are driven by citizen need.

    Financing Alternative for a Downtown Arena

    A new downtown Aena is an excellent concept when combined with a hotel, shopping and residential development. The problem is financing. A Community Revitalization Levy (CRL) is an option but it still places taxpayers at risk (in a CRL we borrow against future tax revenue derived from the development). If no other private financing solution can be found I favor creating a Civic Corporation that would enter into partnership with the Katz group to finance the building the arena. As partners the City would be entitled to a portion of the revenue from ticket sales, concessions, and parking in addition to tax revenue and can potentially realize additional gains by selling its interest once its seed investment has been paid back.

    -- Bryan Kapitza, Candidate Ward 6
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Edmonton Ward 6 Candidate > Bryan Kapitza started by NoreneS View original post