Sunday, March 14, 2010

Last Minute Budget Fix for City Hall

Last Minute Santa Claus Moment ? : Funny how all those bureaucrats and politicians at city hall had us fearing the 4% property tax increase plus big user fees a week ago. Now they 'suddenly' find an extra $100 million surplus ! (that makes it $350 million total surplus... most of it comes from reassessed properties and better than expected investments...the lottery maybe?). Wow.... and ... they have already allocated it: Now the property tax increase is only 2.9%. User registration fee for recreation programs is only $25. Public libraries can now be open on Sundays. Police are still getting only a 4% increase (although they wanted $4 million more), while city councillor budgets are cut by 5% (or $2,655) which still makes them over $50,000 (plus their $100,000 salaries, which they did not cut). Arts groups will see an increase in grants. Student nutrition programs will continue. Daycare funding will continue. The final vote on the budget is April 16.

So all is well? This is like some late night television infomercial: "And if you buy this...., wait! We'll throw in more good news. Buy this now!"

After Councillor Paula Fletcher's tirade attacking a person making a budget deputation last week, and now with poor budget management, can we trust what we are being sold? I guess we will find out.... after the election.

This is not a professional, transparent, open and accountable way to run a city.

What I would like to see is a formal, legislated, properly and comprehensively audited "STATE OF THE CITY" address by our Mayor every Spring. No more backroom meetings with information known by a few in the inner circle. No more playing games. We need to know where we stand, what the good news and the bad news is. We deserve that kind of respect.