Controversial Winnipeg budgets approved by council
2 councillors had offered compromise to save museum funding
Posted: Jan 29, 2013 8:46 AM CST
Last Updated: Jan 29, 2013 6:15 PM CST
Winnipeg city council has passed both its operating and capital budgets.
The operating budget passed by a vote of 11-5 on Tuesday afternoon. Councillors who voted against it were Ross Eadie, Jenny Gerbasi, John Orlikow, Paula Havixbeck and Justin Swandel.
Four councillors, including Swandel and Havixbeck, voted against the capital budget.
Council met on Tuesday to vote on the 2013 capital and operating budgets, which come with a 3.87 per cent property tax increase that will bring an additional $17.4 million into the city coffers.
The preliminary operating budget, set at $921.6 million, and the $374.7 million capital budget, were tabled in early January.
Boost in councillors' allowances approved
There was instant controversy as museums were targeted for a funding reduction while councillors were set to get $40,000 more in discretionary funding for their personal expenses — a boost of more than 50 per cent.
In total, that works out to $600,000 extra for the city's 15 councillors.
Two Winnipeg city councillors had proposed a compromise that they hoped would restore funding to museums and poverty programs.
Gerbasi and Swandel wanted the proposed increase to councillors' ward budgets to be cut in half, and the savings be given to those groups.
But the majority of councillors rejected their motion and approved the discretionary funding increase.
Among the 10 council members who supported the increase was Coun. Grant Nordman, who said the extra money will "provide our executive assistants, who are among the lowest-paid people in this building, a living wage."
Other councillors suggested that the city studies why it funds 14 different museums.
Sports groups upset with fee hike
Council also approved raising fees related to the use of athletic fields, a move that angered local sports groups.
Groups like the Manitoba Organization of Disc Sports argue that the increase, which pushes nightly user fees from $34 to $70, is outrageous considering the condition of the fields, he argued.
Corey Draper of the disc sports organization said the fee hike will have a negative impact on sports such as ultimate Frisbee, with little benefit in return.
"It's not going to improve the quality of the field or the safety of the players, for that matter," he said.
"If they're just trying to fix a budget line by taking money from one group to pay for something else, somewhere else, that's just not fair and not really acceptable for our group."
Draper added that the city never consulted groups like his about any fee increase.
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