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City hall fires back with defence of budget

December 1st, 2009 · 4 Comments

This just out from the printing presses at city hall. The criticisms must be getting to them.

Proposed 2010 budget protects homeless, environment, arts programs

Property tax increase limited to 2%

Staff will present the 2010 proposed operating budget to council today, which Mayor Robertson says invests in Council’s priorities despite difficult budget circumstances, and limits overall property taxes to 2%.

“This budget protects our homeless and housing programs, invests in the environment and public safety, and has no cuts to the arts,” said Mayor Robertson. “Despite facing a $60 million shortfall, I’m pleased that we’re able to deliver a progressive, pragmatic budget that invests in our top priorities.”

The 2010 proposed operating budget comes to council following weeks of public consultations, including community forums, telephone polling, and web surveys. Following approval in principle by council, the budget will go to a public hearing on December 3rd.

“The budget process is never easy in the best of times, let alone when we’re facing historic declines in development revenue and are not allowed to run a deficit,” said Mayor Robertson. “Staff have done a great job identifying efficiencies within the City and finding cost savings to close the $60 million gap, and doing it all with just a 2% tax increase.”

Among the key highlights in the 2010 proposed operating budget:

    • No cuts to programs directed towards homelessness, vulnerable populations, or affordable housing
    • Maintained funding for the City’s Sustainability Group, to help continue work on reducing greenhouse gases and implementing curbside composting
    • Increased funding for arts and culture
    • Police budget increased, and $2.6 million in savings identified within the VPD without laying off any police officers
    • Limiting property taxes overall to 2%

The budget report from staff will be presented at today’s 2pm council meeting. A final decision by council will be made on December 18th.

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  • dazzle me

    wow. some people will be pissed at the tax increase, but one has to admire council for the moxy. and of course, the npa backed itself into a bit of a corner by rushing out to call for programs to be saved (thus maybe making criticisms of the tax increase a little tougher to level).

    and i’m a little surprised that the ballem and the mayor finally managed to wrangle some good efficiences out of the police department. i bet that on the one hand, the chief is sort of pissed that other departments didn’t have to find efficiencies when he did (as he must surely have been led to believe would occur), and that on the other, he’s thinking/hoping that his cooperation will make his department safe from the budget knife for a while.

  • gmgw

    Until the City demonstrates the same enthusiasm for seeking out “efficiencies” among their bloated managerial and supervisory ranks that they do for targeting the rank-and-file, my response to grotesque attempts at self-justification such as this memo can be summed up in one word: “Bullshit”.
    gmgw

  • With respect to dazzle me, the police department is the single largest item in the city’s budget, and received the highest increase of any department. While I fully support our boys in blue and wish we invested more in providing advanced training and better equipment to the officers we already have, I believe the Mayor has made a major mistake in hiring 100 new police officers at a time of cuts to libraries, parks and community centers.

    The 100 new officers he has insisted on hiring will cost the city an additional $12,000,000 annually, when we already have the highest number of police officers per capita in Canada, and at a time crime rates have fallen 20%+ over the past four years. When police now spend 1/3 of their time dealing with mental-health-related issues, we could invest instead in ten new social workers to be on call 24/7 in direct support of our police at 1/10th the cost.

    It is not the only case of misplaced priorities, but it is one of the most glaring. I spoke to this issue and others during the ThinkCity Budget debate last night at SFU Downtown, and was surprised that Vision was the only civic party not to send a representative to debate these important issues.

  • Bill Lee

    Agree with @Sean Bickerton.

    What if the police were unarmed as UK police and one provincial police was until a few years ago? Would that reduce costs?

    Much of their work is social work with contacts, maybe have social workers instead at half the cost, replace the police?

    And I’m expecting more caught-on-cellphone mishaps and shootings by the junior police who really aren’t well-trained and maybe we should hire cleared veterans at a higher start wage who don’t make so many mistakes.

    What if there were no police? I’m sure Bar-watch would pay for all of Granville street policing. Not.

    And the Fire Department is keeping a low profile but also complaining. And why are there only 6 females on the Fire brigade?

    Costs per city might go down if we amalgamated and let Burnaby use their superb organization to run Vancouver also.