Winnipeg's executive policy committee is meeting today to discuss the city's latest budget, which includes a proposed boost of more than 50 per cent to councillors' expense budgets.
The 2013 operating budget proposes a $40,000 increase to each councillor's discretionary allowance, which is currently set at about $74,000 a year.
Councillors can use that money for a number of expenses, from staff salaries, office supplies and business lunches to advertising, community awards and donations.
Transcona Coun. Russ Wyatt, who chairs the city's finance committee, says he included the allowance increase in the budget after some other councillors requested it.
"There's really no good time of year to address that, so the optics aren't great at any time," he said.
The proposed increase will be one of the items that members of the executive policy committee — informally known as the mayor's cabinet — will look at as they review the budget on Wednesday.
Council as a whole will vote on the budget at the end of this month.
Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry Coun. Jenny Gerbasi said she opposes the increase and wants a third party to review councillors' allowances.
"It shows how out of touch the drafters of this budget are," she said.
Daniel McIntyre Coun. Harvey Smith said while the cuts to museums, non-profit groups and charities bothers him, he would appreciate having more resources.
"I can use those monies very wisely in fighting for things I believe in," he said.
The idea of beefing up councillors' expense accounts didn't sit well with Winnipeggers like Ron Boyco, a candy store owner.
"I think they can do their job with what they have," he said.
Boyco said it's especially unfair for councillors to get more money while city museums, heritage programs and other non-profit groups could face funding cuts under the budget.