Friday, February 2, 2007

Budget continues to rise

This lede from reporter Joe Belanger's coverage in the London Free Press of council's review of the 2007 operating budget yesterday sums the whole thing up well:

After 4 1/2 hours of debate, council added $200,000 to city costs but made no cuts.
After board of control added some $7 million in spending to the draft budget during its review last week, taxpayers must be hoping that politicians never get another chance to shop the budget again. But it is an idle hope… council reviews the capital budget next week. From administration's draft budget in December recommending a 4.3 per cent increase in spending and a 2.6 per cent increase in the property tax rate, politicians in short order have turned the budget into a 4.9 per cent increase in spending and a 2.8 per cent property tax rate increase, abetted along the way by expropriating most of last year's surplus taxation. With the exception of provincial grants, which Londoners must fund anyway from their provincial taxes when combined with the grants released to other municipalities, the 4.9 per cent increase in tax revenue in the end comes entirely out of the pockets of Londoners. The compartmentalization of accounting procedures allows the city to trumpet the 2.8 per cent rate increase alone as though it were the only mechanism for increasing its tax revenue, although many Londoners will be hit with much larger increases because of assessed values.

Of note, Library CEO Anne Becker's political blackmail of council by preemptively approving expenditures contained in the unapproved over-target portion of its budget and threatening to close branches and reduce operating hours if the Library didn't receive the funding worked like a charm, as council approved its entire 4.6 per cent increase from last year… after which Becker warned that branches might still be closed anyway. This is an admirable demonstration not only of Becker's political cunning, but also of dedication to her mandate which, like all top bureaucrats, is to protect and expand the fellowship of bureaucrats. Next time you're at the library, make sure to check out the value you're getting with your money from the new literacy and youth co-ordinators.

3 comments:

Jake said...

I was skimming in the Freeps this morning, reading the Letters to the Editor. I stumbled across this interesting one:

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Time to question our funding priorities

There is something wrong when we plan to spend millions of dollars to fix Western Road and My Sister's Place is about to close through lack of funding.

Margot Sippel

London

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Sure thing Margot, something is wrong--when my tire rims are bent outta shape every time I drive along that dilapidated piece of shit know as Western Road.

How about we take your advice and stop maintaining roads and divert the funds to support social agencies that municipalities have no business supporting. Oh wait!--that's right--we don't have the cash to repair our roads already since our inept politicians started spending it on the JLC, Libraries, and other wasteful "priorities".

I would have though Margot was already a member of city council with that way of so-called "thinking".

Peter K. said...

Hmmm, financial aid for women who might freeze to death on the street or for the roads so a rich kid can save money on his "rims" and to ensure he has a smooth ride to university?
You're right Jake that is a tough call.

Jake said...

Peter

This "rich kid" catch phrase is getting kinda old don't you think?

According to your (and Margot's) logic, we should stop, not only maintaining roads, but also WATERMAINS and SEWERS to subsidize to social groups. Here is why:

Apart from the deteriorating road itself, Western Road also has underneath it one of the largest trunk watermains and sewer lines in all of London. These lines service the boilers for both UWO and University Hospital: both are among the largest institutional facilities in all of Canada. These lines haven't been replaced in well over 45 years. God forbid this watermain breaks in our current frigid temperatures and cuts off the water supply to both UWO and University Hospital. I wonder how many people would freeze in the cold if that were to happen???

Having well-maintained civic infrastructure is not just a basic requirement for cities, but a safety issue as well.

By the way, numerous organizations get their funding via donations and charity and not from the city. Take the United Way and Jesse's Journey as an example.

Civic government's role isn't to be a handout to every social agency that asks for one.