WINNIPEG museums are decrying the city's plan to cut their funding by 10 per cent.
Last week, city politicians tabled the city's $920-million operating budget, the plan that outlines how much Winnipeg will spend on everything from police to insect control in 2013. The budget included a 3.87 per cent property-tax hike and a plan to find $13.6 million in savings by delaying filling vacant positions and reducing grants to non-profit groups by $358,000.
Those non-profit groups include museums, which will all see their funding reduced by 10 per cent. The St. Boniface Museum will see its annual city funding drop from $450,000 to $400,000, the Transcona Museum will receive $139,500 instead of $155,000 and the Western Canada Aviation Museum will see its funding decline from $55,000 to $49,500.
On Monday, Manitoba Children's Museum executive director Diane Doth told council's protection and community services she was surprised by the city's decision to cut their capital and operating funding by $21,000. Doth said she initially thought the cut was a mistake, as the city will see increased revenue this year from the property-tax hike.
She asked the city to reinstate the funding, and said the museum may not be able to continue some programs for inner-city youth and schools without it.
"I couldn't believe it. I honestly thought it was not real," Doth said.
City of Winnipeg Museums Board chairman William Dowie said the arbitrary cuts to museums will have a "huge impact" and could result in the loss of services to the public, including reduced operating hours and staff.
"It's a very small amount for the city but it's a large effect," he said.
Mynarski Coun. Ross Eadie introduced a motion for the city to spend slightly more than $123,000 to restore museum funding to 2012 levels, saying Winnipeg could take the money from the proposed hike to councillors' discretionary ward budgets. The idea failed to pass a vote by council's protection and community services committee.
Coun. Jenny Gerbasi (Fort Rouge) has expressed concern the city plans to cut funding to museums, non-profits and community groups — including the poverty-reduction strategy — and at the same time, increase councillors' discretionary ward budgets by $40,000.
Updated on Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 11:09 AM CST: corrects incorrect word