Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
Posted: 09/4/2014 12:18 PM | Comments: 0
Judy Wasylycia-Leis may be the frontrunner in the opinion polls to become Winnipeg’s next mayor but she stumbled badly in the courtyard of city hall Thursday morning when she was unable to explain how she’d pay for the $20 million annual bus rapid transit financing costs.
Wasylycia-Leis began her news conference detailing how she would allocate a three per cent annual property tax increase, which is a duplication of the plan city council adopted a year ago: one-third for core services and two-thirds for local and regional roads.
But city hall faces an annual $20 million bill beginning in 2020 to pay for its share of the $600 million BRT project.
Wasylycia-Leis has not made any provisions for the BRT financing. When asked repeatedly where she would find the $20 million, she said she is committed to completing the second phase of the southwest corridor to the University of Manitoba and referred to all of her other promises – but would not say how she would come up with an additional $20 million.
"You’ve got my reasonable commitment to complete the southwest transitway," Wasylycia-Leis said. "I know it’s going to take some money….
"The bottom line is we have to finish it and we will find the resources without going to the public again for another (property tax) increase."
Finding the $20 million will be one of the priorities for the next council.
The civic administration has suggested the obvious options to find the $20 million annually: trim department budgets, raise taxes for the full amount, or more borrowing, which will result in a smaller tax increase but add to the city’s growing debt problem; or a combination of all three.
Wasylycia-Leis said she was contrasting her platform for a modest, stable tax increase to finance the necessary civic work and criticized Gord Steeves for promising to freeze taxes and sell city property to finance infrastructure projects.
Wasylycia-Leis also criticized Brian Bowman for claiming he can find $10 million within the existing city budget through department cuts but when pressed by reporters, she twice said she would resort to the same "efficiencies" to find the $20 million for BRT.
"We’re going to find a way to do it, we’re going to find a way to take on the infrastructure deficit," Wasylycia-Leis said. "If it’s not enough, we’re going to have to look for efficiencies in city hall."
Wasylycia-Leis said if forced to find funds through efficiencies, she committed to not cut front-line services.
Before she got lost with BRT, Wasylycia-Leis outlined a winter services plan, very similar to what Paula Havixbeck announced last week. Wasylycia-Leis said the city’s priority for the winter would be snow removal, ensuring there is no repeat of the past winter’s frozen pipes situation, and overhauling the 311 information system.
Having problems with the form?Contact Us Directly
Media and mayoralty: race matters
Let's remove the barriers to voting
Let's fix the city's social infrastructure
Winnipeg votes: Oct. 22, 2014
Bowman's newest deal
Ouellette's star still on the rise
Voters stick with status quo for school boards
Bowman has chance to take city forward
New mayor faces high expectations
Result shocks Bowman
Selinger says he and Bowman share several priorities
Shelley Hart new mayor of East St. Paul
Bowman drops by News Café
Brian Bowman wins mayoral battle
Bowman was able to grow
Still need public face on public space
Out with old and in with new
Schreyer unseats Steen in Elmwood-East Kildonan
Gilroy seizes Daniel McIntyre after close race
Morantz edges Duncan in Charleswood-Tuxedo
Lukes wins boss' vacated seat in St. Norbert
Dobson finds his groove in fourth election attempt
Orlikow beats Taz in River Heights-Fort Garry
Devi Sharma squeaks in win in Old Kildonan
Pike new mayor in St. Andrews
Pagtakhan retains Point Douglas seat
Wyatt reinstated in Transcona
Mayes re-elected in St. Vital
Gerbasi holds down Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry
Eadie back for second term in Mynarski
Browaty holds on to North Kildonan
Activists hope to boost voting in North End
Last chance to vote: Polls open until 8 p.m.
By the numbers: Election candidates
Civic election: then and now
City can't afford rival's promises: Wasylycia-Leis
Bowman says voting for him is only way to stop Judy W-L
Drop by News Café on election night
Vision: n. ability to plan or form policy in a far-sighted way