Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Budget Antics 2005

London was shrouded in a thick fog today, I imagine brought about by the Almighty to express his disproval of the latest talks about the budget here in London. Some highlights from the continuing circus we call London:

The police get a small cut from their budget, and still whine - and this despite the expansion of police headquarters and the huge increase they got last year:

Chief Murray Faulkner said he'll have to meet with senior management and the police services board to decide where to find the money in a $63-million budget that amounts to a 5.5-per-cent increase over last year -- the target the police were given by the city.

"The bottom line is I have to find $184,000 and we'll have to come up with some kind of strategy to find it," Faulkner said yesterday.

He hopes to hire 15 new police officers this year and with 94 per cent of his budget consumed by staffing, that figure may have to be trimmed, he said.

He defended the 2005 budget, along with last year's spending that included hiring 35 new police officers, noting the new staff is showing positive results.

Between 2001 and last year, Faulkner said vacant beats have been reduced by 60 per cent, overtime has dropped by 30 per cent and emergency response time has dropped 43 per cent from 9.4 minutes to under five minutes.

Coun. Paul Van Meerbergen tried unsuccessfully to slash $1.6 million from the police budget, arguing "given the horrific budget pressure we're under, it's just not realistic to grant this type of increase."
Same old story every year - so much so, that sometimes I cannot tell if I am viewing an article from this year about the budget or if I am looking at last years. Maybe I should just move to St.Thomas:
St. Thomas, the city that boasts 25 per cent more life, will likely also bring in a smaller tax hike than big-city neighbour London. In St. Thomas -- as is the case in Chatham, Sarnia and Woodstock -- the projected property tax increase facing residents this year is much lower than the 7.8-per-cent hike looming for Londoners, as councils start hammering out their final civic budgets.

"Compared to some other communities . . . we're looking pretty good," St. Thomas Mayor Jeff Kohler said yesterday.
Compared to London, most communities look pretty good.
Some municipal expenses have been ignored in years past, Gagner said, which will make the targeted tax hike necessary.

"There (was) a period of time where various councils went forward with . . . zero- per-cent budget increases," she said. "One of the problems we've encountered in recent years is playing a little bit of catchup.

"We're paying a little bit now for some stuff that should have been handled before."
In London, the order of the day is to pass the buck to next year, after taking sufficient spoils from Londoners to build fancy arenas and preside over heritage.


command economy said...

"London was shrouded in a thick fog today, I imagine brought about by the Almighty to express his disproval of the latest talks about the budget here in London."

Oh, so that's what it was!

Looking out my 9th floor window with a few dozen yards of visibility, I figured they'd finally just gone ahead and banned smoking in "public places".

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