Mayor Sam Katz released details of the 2014 budget at a news conference this morning, surprising some members of council.
With 16 grade school children as a back drop inside the gym at Dalhousie School, Katz said the 2014 capital budget will see a $500,000 increase in spending for active transportation related projects: $1.75 million, up from $1.25 million 2013.
The preliminary operating and capital budgets will be released Nov. 29 but Katz said he’ll be releasing some details ahead of time to ensure the good news isn’t lost among the financial numbers on budget day.
"We want the public to know," Katz said. "Quite often, a lot of the things we’re doing aren’t always picked up through the media to the public."
Katz said similar pre-budget announcements were made in previous years and he’ll be making additional announcements leading up to the formal release of the preliminary budgets at a special meeting of executive policy committee.
But several councillors said the announcement reveals the level of dysfunction at city hall when school children learn budget details before elected officials.
"It’s fundamentally disrespectful to members of council, and the public, the way the process treats us," Jenny Gerbasi said. "Some members of council – the mayor his executive policy committee – have intimate knowledge on major areas and the rest of us have very little knowledge."
John Orlikow said the news conference is further evidence that the budget process is a formality, adding that Katz is confident he can muster enough votes among members of his executive committee to pass the budgets as they are presented.
Katz said he wasn’t troubled that all of council only learned of the budget detail this morning, adding all councillors were invited to the news conference at Dalhousie School.
Katz would not say if there will be a property tax increase above the 1 per cent council will be asked to approve, dedicated to local street improvements.
Katz is proposing to increase total spending for active transportation related projects by $500,000 for 2014:
- Double spending on active transportation corridors; $1 million in 2014; up from $500,000 this year.
- Freeze spending on recreational walkways and bike paths construction in 2014 at $500,000; same amount as this year.
- Decrease spending on new regional sidewalks by 50 per cent; $250,000 in 2014; down from $500,000 this year.