Sunday, May 15, 2005

Burping and Belching all the way to the bank

From the capital of closed door meetings and legal disputes:

Mediation has failed to resolve a human rights complaint against London in the hiring of a human rights specialist in December 2003.

Toronto lawyer and London native Bob Wright, who claims he was rejected for the new position because of his gender, met with Ontario Human Rights Commission and city officials last Thursday.

The Free Press has learned that no agreement was reached and the commission must now decide whether to dismiss the case or investigate the claim and conduct a tribunal hearing.

That could take several months, a source said.
Don't count on any tax relief next year fellow London suckers:
Londoners face a projected property tax hike of less than four per cent next year following pre-budget meetings of city council.

And that's before council members sit down to do any trimming.

Staff initially projected an 8.8-per-cent tax hike next year.

But new provincial funding, less downloading, cost-cutting and containment will deliver some relief to taxpayers next year after hikes totalling more than 11 per cent this year and last.
What a load of crap. Cost-cutting does not occur in London. Any relief London taxpayers might see will be offset by increased taxes from other levels of government. How dare councillors take any credit for the increased cash flow. See how much unearned, stolen money was received:
- a new provincial grant program giving the city $13.1 million a year to offset downloading costs.

- a two-cent-a-litre share -- or about $9 million annually -- of the provincial gas tax to expand public transit.

- an exemption to the federal goods and services tax (GST) amounting to about $6.5 million.

London had also hoped to get about $4 million from the federal gas tax this year with payments increasing to about $21 million in 2009.
And no London Free Press article is complete without a plug for the sponsor of the whole scheme:
However, that money is now in peril since the minority Liberal government faces a non-confidence vote May 19 that, if successful, could sink its budget promises.
Surely this qualifies as political advertising. The Free Press should be forced to register as an advertising sponsor for the Liberals.
Council still faces significant budget challenges for 2006 and beyond.

Budgets for emergency services -- police, fire and ambulance -- continue to skyrocket.

Police are projecting the need for an increase of 6.5 per cent, mostly to hire 14 new officers in the final phase of a staff expansion of 85 officers over the last few years.

The ambulance service is looking for 10.4 per cent more, mostly to pay for an arbitration decision last year that gave local paramedics a 28-per-cent wage increase over three years.

The fire department is projecting it needs a hike of 8.6 per cent to pay for training, hiring of new fire inspectors after two critical reports last year, and a contract settlement with firefighters.

Other problem areas include social housing and conservation authorities facing hefty increases, mostly due to new regulations.
The beggars are already lining up for a share of next years loot before this years promised loot is in hand:
London and other cities stand to lose millions in federal gas-tax revenue if Paul Martin's minority Liberals are brought down before they can pass their first budget. In London, that could cost taxpayers $4 million the city is already banking on from the feds in this year's city budget.

[. . ] "If they do not pass the budget, we get nothing -- no gas tax -- and we've budgeted $3 million of it this year," said DeCicco. "You just can't find money like that easily. This is like the worst of all things that could have happened."
Considering the Liberals are in the business of passing regulations, it's highly doubtful the tax increase will come in below 8%. I further predict that the buckets of cash London has received from the Federal and Provincial Governments will lead to the implementation of the bread and circus program.

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