Weekly green bin pickup this summer in Halifax region axed
Halifax regional council needs to cover off $85.4-million budget shortfall
Weekly green cart pickup in the Halifax region this summer has been cancelled.
Regional council made the decision Wednesday to cancel weekly pickup in July, August and September in an effort to cut costs over revenue lost to COVID-19. The move saves the municipality $1.1 million.
A decision had to be made by May 15 in order to change the contracts with the municipality's haulers.
Biweekly green cart pickup will continue as scheduled.
"It's unfortunate that there will be a smell, but it is an inconvenience. It is not critical," Coun. Paul Russell said. "I see this as the first kick at saving some money."
Other programs cancelled Wednesday include:
- Tree planting.
- Weed harvesting in Lake Banook.
- Most HRM civic events.
$85.4M budget shortfall
Council asked its finance staff to consider options to cover off an $85.4-million budget shortfall.
A presentation was made on Tuesday that included a long list of cuts to programs and projects, as well as layoffs and a hiring freeze.
Under the original proposal, proposed capital cuts include:
- $26.2 million for Cogswell Interchange redevelopment.
- $5.6 million for fire station replacements.
- $2 million for Downtown Dartmouth infrastructure renewal.
Operating budget cuts include layoffs, hiring freezes and reduced services:
- $21 million in compensation (28 positions in the police department would not be filled).
- $5.6 million in contracts and consulting.
- $2.5 million in travel and training.
- $6.5 million for programs.
- $4.9 million for grants.
Councillors are worried about the impact of not filling vacancies throughout the various departments, particularly when it comes to public safety.
"There isn't a whole lot of appetite for the proposed changes to police and fire, so staff need to look at some possible solutions to our concerns," said Coun. Tim Outhit.
Municipal staff plan to bring back a report by the end of May.
A special budget meeting of the police commission is scheduled for Thursday morning and the next council meeting on the revised budget will take place Friday afternoon.
Savings for a rainy day
Council approved a motion to have staff consider putting $33 million back into the budget, through increased borrowing and the use of up to $12 million of savings from reserve accounts.
"If there was ever a rainy day, this is it," said Coun. Steve Streatch. "If this is not the time we've been saving for, I don't know when it would be."
Mayor Mike Savage also supported the idea of dipping into some savings.
"If you're saving for a rainy day, it's pouring. We haven't had rain like this in my lifetime," said Savage. "It doesn't mean I support every part of the motion, but we should look at all the options."