City of Winnipeg budget process underway
November 24, 2017 at 7:53 PM
On November 22, the Executive Policy Committee of City Council revealed its proposed operating and capital budgets for 2018.
The operating budget is responsible for many of the programs and public services that Local 500 members provide to the citizens of Winnipeg. The Local is reviewing the budget to identify any and all service reductions and will be raising these at the upcoming standing committee meetings and with City Council if necessary.
From our first read of the budget, there are a number of items that have us concerned:
- $21.9 million in savings through vacancy management (increase of $3.4 million over 2017 target)
- $11.5 million in department efficiency savings
- 4.3 per cent decrease in community services budget including $5 million dollar cut to recreation
- Business tax reduction
- Increase to transit fares/cuts to transit routes
“The city’s continued reliance on vacancy management to save money, isputting a chokehold on its ability to run services effectively,” said Local 500 President Gord Delbridge. "We’re basically working with skeleton crews right now in all departments. We need to ensure we have enough workers to provide the services Winnipeggers rely on, and that support is just not there.”
The proposed budget also calls for $11.5 million in “department efficiency savings" but does not provide any details of what or where those savings will be achieved.
“Local 500 understands the City’s goal of finding efficiencies but this effort must be balanced with ensuring services are maintained,” said Delbridge. “As we’ve said many times, CUPE is open to meeting with city officials to discuss initiatives that would improve services and save money at the same time.”
While the Local applauds increased funding to urban forestry, the budget fails to provide any inflationary adjustments to other service areas such as libraries and parks. The budget reduction to Community Services will mean less money for recreation and leisure programs.
“If we cannot maintain pools and recreation centres and programs, young people, families and seniors will suffer the consequences,” said Delbridge.
On top of this, the city will be cutting the business tax from 5.25% to 5.14 % in 2018.
“We do not believe that the city should be reducing the business tax at a time when front line services are being cut and user fees such as bus fares are increasing,” added Delbridge. “Businesses and commercial properties need to contribute more to the financial well being of the city. They benefit from the services provided by the city and should pay their fair share.”
As in previous years, CUPE Local 500 would like to see leadership from the city and will be making the following recommendations:
- An immediate end to the vacancy management program to ensure adequate staffing levels in city services;
- A commitment to reject the contracting out or privatization of any municipal service to ensure accountable and quality public service delivery;
- A commitment to bringing previously contracted-out services back in-house;
- Maintaining or improving the level of city services currently being provided to Winnipeggers to ensure that our citizens do not receive cuts to the services they rely on.
“We’re looking for leadership from City Hall to improve, rather than cut the services Winnipeggers rely,” said Delbridge. “The citizens of Winnipeg deserve a budget that meets their needs now and into the future.”
The Local will keep you updated on the budget process as more information becomes available.