Thursday, March 3, 2005

"almost makes me want to break out in a rash"

This years budget hasn't even been passed and already the city managers are predicting further tax increases for Londoners next year. You don't say! I'm shocked!

London taxpayers face a potential 8.8-per-cent tax hike next year, city staff warned yesterday. Following hikes of 6.6 per cent this year and 5.9 per cent in 2004, the prospect of a nearly nine-per-cent tax increase next year makes observers nervous.

"That's just unacceptable," said Deputy Mayor Tom Gosnell, city council's budget chief, in a later interview.

"But that's the potential (hike) if we aren't aggressive in getting our costs down and stopping the downloading."

Board of control was given the news yesterday in a report from city administrators, with recommendations for city council to take action to reduce the projected property tax increase.
Your darn right it is unacceptable Mr. Gosnell, so why don't you 'leaders' do something about it and stop spending money that isn't yours trying to make London 'creative' and competitive. Before you blame it all on downloading and the province, you may want to examine your own judgments and decisions. While council was trying to justify this year's tax increase, they certainly attempted to downplay the potential for further increases next year, albeit irrationally, especially considering council's ongoing spending habits. Here is what Pass the Buck Gosnell was saying a few months back:
We have to try to keep any tax increase to three per cent on the programs we can control. There was $11 million downloaded on us in 2004 – that accounts to a four per cent tax increase on its own. We need to work on the services we provide, look to streamline things. We need to grow our revenue, work on economic development and grow the job market. And we will continue to work with the upper levels of government on getting revenue from the fuel tax.”
Let us see what actions Board of Control is taking to balance the budget. The very same day they receive the recommendation, they go ahead and back this:
London's financially troubled Fanshawe Pioneer Village was thrown a five-year lifeline by board of control yesterday. The board reluctantly but unanimously recommended to give the village an extra $85,000 this year and a verbal commitment of funding for another five years.


The next hurdle for the recreated 19th-century farm village is to get city council approval Monday.

Approval would increase the city's grant to $300,000.

Faced with paying most of the estimated $2 million to close the village, the board opted instead to take a "risk" to keep the museum open.


By law, the city can only provide operating grants on a year-to-year basis.

But the board promised the money will keep flowing provided the village meets several conditions, most importantly progress on a planned $3 million capital fundraising drive.

Pearson said he's "very confident" the village can raise the money needed to refurbish and expand the site to make it more attractive to visitors.

Pearson said there are donors bearing "significant" gifts already in the wings to launch the fundraising drive, which he said will begin in about two months.


Controller Gord Hume led the push to restore funding.

"We have to get the village off this annual budget roulette wheel," Hume said.

"Quite frankly, the village administration and the board have to become more aggressive in their fundraising."
Needless to say, Gord Hume will not be invited for dinner - ever.

If $3 million can be raised, where is it right now? That should cover their operating and captial costs. However, we live in London, where city capital budgets are grossly inflated at the expense of operations and taxpayers.

The city managers have alot in common with the heritage lobbyists, for one of the recommendations, among others, to deal with looming tax hikes is to lobby the province. That's right, give us what we want, we'll force you, and then we'll blame it on someone else when the whole shithouse caves in:
The actions staff recommends council take include:

- Setting budget targets for boards and commissions, including fire, police and ambulance.

- Lobbying the province for a moratorium on new regulations, programs and standards pushing up costs, and uploading of services such as welfare, social housing and child care.

- Possible cuts to planned capital projects and sale of assets to reduce debt servicing costs.

- A moratorium on new funding requests from outside groups and agencies.

The recommendations include a staff commitment of no budget increases for civic departments, which would reduce the tax hike to 7.5 per cent.

To hold the line on spending for departments, staff will have to find cuts totalling $4.8 million to balance increased costs such as inflation and labour.

"It's terrible," said Jim Montag, head of the London-Middlesex Taxpayers Coalition.

"I don't know what is going on downtown, but they are going crazy with these increases."

Board of control accepted a staff recommendation to use $10 million of a $12.9-million surplus from 2004 to pay down debt.

That reduces next year's tax hike by another 0.3 per cent.

The balance of the surplus will go into reserves and $300,000 was added to road maintenance.
Mighty nice of them to put money into something practical for a change. Welcome to London: The Ontario capital of five year plans.


gm said...

This has got to stop!

Lisa Turner said...

Indeed! What can we do? It seems such a losing battle and then you read this sort of thing:

I am very afraid.

gm said...

We need to meet and make a plan of action.

Lisa Turner said...

A fine idea gm - email us.