A debate, especially in view of research by Tim Cobdan of the University of Western Ontario, might have exposed the Greater Vernon Governance Society’s pro-amalgamation stance not only as impractical but also as a tax-increasing imposition on ratepayers.
Let’s look at professor Cobdan’s findings from figures across Ontario.
1. From 1995 to 2010, municipalities that were not amalgamated, increased their workforce by 1.77 full-time workers for every 10,000 residents, while those that were amalgamated, hired 3.25 workers for every 10,000 residents. That’s almost double.
2. When workforces one year before amalgamation were compared to five years after, Ottawa went from 9,767 to 12,813, an increase of nearly a third or about 33 per cent.
Not all municipalities had such a rampant increase in workforce. Toronto’s workforce actually did shrink a bit, but only by 2.7 per cent in five years.
3. Since the five-year mark, Ottawa’s workforce has grown even more to 15,074, a 54 per cent increase over 14 years.
4. Overall, the number of jobs in Ontario’s city governments went up about 24 per cent in the 15 years before amalgamation started in 1996.
Then in the 15 years after amalgamation, the number of jobs increased by about 39 per cent, that’s a 15 per cent increase and that while government employment in general decreased in Canada.
5. Professor Cobdan also found that general administration has grown faster than the rest of the municipal workforce.
No matter how we look at this, I see very little evidence of an impressive improvement of general municipal efficiency. Neither can I see any possibility of a reduced taxation benefit for the ratepayer. All I can see from the Ontario results is an undue increase in both workforce and an even faster increase in general administration positions.
To me, both of these factors translate into higher taxes so don’t try to boondoggle me with sweet nothing like increased, improved efficiency and an implied decrease in municipal taxation.
It’s not what happened there and the odds are it’s not going to happen here.