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Council votes on spending plan; ward budget increase remains

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City council voted to approve Winnipeg's 2013 spending plan without restoring grants to non-profit groups or axing a $40,000 increase to councillors' discretionary ward budgets.

This afternoon, city council voted to approve its capital and operating budgets without any additional amendments. The budgets include a 3.87 per cent tax property tax increase which is expected to generate an additional $17.8 million and help pay for the rising cost of police and emergency services, which account for 44 per cent -- $406 million -- of Winnipeg's $921-million operating budget.

One per cent of the property tax increase -- $4.5 million -- will go toward a reserve fund dedicated to fixing streets, lanes and sidewalks.

The budget also call for a five per cent reduction to the budget of museums and reducing grants to non-profit groups. Councillors' discretionary office budgets will rise to $114,000 from about $74,000.

Several councillors opposed the ward budget increase as the city is cutting funding to community groups such as the United Way.

Couns. Justin Swandel (St. Norbert) and Jenny Gerbasi (Fort Rouge) asked council to consider reducing the increase to ward budgets by $335,498 in order to restore cuts to museums and other non-profits. The motion failed by a vote of 5-11.

City council also voted against a call to reduce the booking fee for athletic fields. This year's operating budget calls for the fee to rent an athletic field to increase to $70 from $34.

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