Taxes by any other name.

The city of Kitchener, Canada has been overcharging its citizens for natural gas:

In that period of time Union Gas, the main private-sector competitor for Kitchener Utilities, charged rates very close to the market rate.

“But our rate averaged out to 90 per cent higher,” Gazzola said.

Last year the city utility’s rate was 125 per cent higher than the average market rate, he said.

That isn’t the overcharging I’m referring to though. This is what I am talking about:

Kitchener is one of only two municipalities in Ontario that retained ownership of its natural-gas distribution company. Kingston is the other one. The local utility pumps millions of dollars into city coffers every year.

Some of that money is used to keep property taxes down and fund the operating costs of the city network of community centres. The revenues from the utility were used to pay for the massive clean up of a large coal tar deposit under the area of Joseph and Gaukel streets several years ago.

The gas utility is intentionally overcharging citizens for natural gas and turning it over to the city. That’s just taxation by another name, and taxation without representation too, because citizens do not get a vote in the operation of the utility. Kitchener isn’t the only one either; the other local cities do this with their electric utilities too:

City councils have hiked rates while spending more than $149 million in electricity cash to build a new City Hall in Cambridge, pay RIM Park debt in Waterloo and build the Kingsdale Community Centre in Kitchener, among other projects.

Next time these municipalities complain about needing more money for the infrastructure deficit, let’s remember that they are already picking our pockets in numerous ways that they don’t like to refer to as “taxes”, but they are taking the money just the same. But the infrastructure deficit doesn’t seem to be improving.

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