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EPC considers public proposals, recommendations on budget

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Mayor Sam Katz and his executive committee meets later today for the third time this week — to finalize a budget package to take to city hall next week.

Katz and EPC spent Thursday listening to presentations from a variety of groups — labour, arts, heavy construction industry, students — and councillors, making pitches for last-minute funding inclusion in the budget.

Voices on the budget from Thursday’s EPC meeting

  • Coalition of post-secondary students: Wants the city to subsidize the cost of a bus pass for students.
  • Western Canada Aviation Museum: Wants $5 million grant to help it move to a new facility closer to the Richardson International Airport.
  • Coun. Scott Fielding (St. James-Brooklands): details several moves that would generate $15.75 million in revenue, eliminating the need for a property tax increase and putting more money in 2014 into infrastructure.
  • CUPE LOCAL 500 President Mike Davidson: Believes citizens would support small tax increases every year to ensure level of services are maintained; he doesn’t believe the 0.95 per cent this year is enough to make up for the consecutive tax freezes of previous years.
  • WAPSO, union representing civic professionals: Lost 137 positions since 2006, a 21 per cent cut in workforce; as a result, services provided to the public are suffering.
  • Coun. Ross Eadie (Mynarski): Cost-saving moves are reducing the city’s ability to deliver services to the public at a level the public expects.
  • Coun. Jenny Gerbasi (For Rouge-East Fort Garry): Questions the wisdom of pushing back repairs to Osborne Underpass while studying expansion of roads in the suburbs; she says the civic priority should be to fix existing infrastructure.

Others simply offered comment on how the budget has impacted civic services.

EPC has proposed a 2014 budget that includes a 2.95 per cent increase in the property tax bill, and total tax-supported spending at $967.8 million.

The budget proposes designating 1 percentage point each for local and regional street repairs reserve funds, with the remaining .95 per cent going to general revenues to cover all other expenses.

This afternoon, EPC will consider proposals from Thursday along with recommendations from the civic standing committees on how the budget might be altered before it’s presented to council.

 

In addition to the partnership with YM-YWCA Winnipeg, the EPC budget includes: forcing non-essential civic staff to take 3.5 days of unpaid leave next Christmas; reducing the number of senior professionals; and cutting back councillors’ ward allowances.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

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