Sunday, January 9, 2005

Pay for it yourself

I cannot believe the audacity of some people! Take! Take! Take! because it is a value to them, but one that they cannot afford without illegitimately taking from others who don't share the same values. Yeah, I am ranting about the proposed city budget again.

From a London Free Press article about mall budget meetings we read the following nonsense:

David Westhouse, president of the Military Re-enactment Society, attended the Westmount meeting yesterday in 1812 military dress to make a pitch to save funding for Fanshawe Pioneer Village.

The village is looking for $310,000 in operating cash and $1 million over four years to fix its historic buildings. The city rejected new capital grants for 2005 to community groups, including the $1 million for the pioneer village.

"Pioneer Village is part of our heritage, it should be should be preserved. I know it's not a popular opinion, but I don't mind if my taxes go up. I think our taxes are high, but I am OK with that," he said.
I am NOT okay with higher taxes bud, and I think many others in London would agree - meeting basic needs is more important to some than heritage. Mr. Westhouse doesn't have his own self-interest in mind I suppose? Emergency services, like ambulance services, clearly are not as important as heritage. Blame it all on provincial downloading and just ignore the hugely inflated capital city budget:
Funding to expand London's police headquarters, new social housing, buses and roadwork top the list of $47 million in capital projects council will debate Wednesday. In meetings last month, board of control held up its end in keeping capital spending in check by limiting new debt to the $30 million cap set by city council two years ago.

The question now is whether council can do the same.

"I'm sure there are people on council who have projects with a higher priority than others," said budget chief Deputy Mayor Tom Gosnell.

"They're perfectly within their rights to challenge and try to change things. But the process has been so inclusive so far, I really don't think you'll see much change."
In other words, Londoners are screwed.
Council's $30 million debt cap refers to the amount of new debt. It does not include funding from other sources, such as reserves or other levels of government.

As well, it doesn't include so-called life-cycle maintenance (road resurfacing, bridge and building repairs) capital spending, totalling $42 million.

MAJOR PROJECTS

The 10 major capital projects out of a list of 52 council will consider:

1) Widening and upgrade of services at corner of Fanshawe Park and Wonderland roads: $7,600,000.

2) Airport Road Industrial Park: $6,678,000.

3) Replacement buses (not including bus service expansion funded by provincial gas tax): $6,321,000

4) Landfill leachate collection system: $3,775,000.

5) New affordable housing: $2 million.

6) Arena upgrades: $1,350,000.

7) Water main to the city landfill: $1,250,000.

8) Completion of Gainsborough and Hyde Park intersection: $1,100,000.

9) Non-profit housing repairs and upgrades: $1 million.

10) North London community centre: $1 million.

Special note: Staff have been asked to find alternative funding to put $6 million toward the proposed $22-million expansion of police headquarters.
Disgusting! In closing, I quote the most - and I believe only - sensible member of council:
"I have heard from the public the municipality has to look after its own budget and stop hiding behind downloading as a rationale," said Coun. Paul Van Meerbergen. "They think police are asking too much, they want reductions in expenditures.

"We can no longer afford local government."

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