A letter from Dave Sauer
Dear sisters and brothers,
Time is of the essence and a solid response for organized labour, community groups, and citizens is required. On January 9th, 2013, the City of Winnipeg simultaneously released its 2013 Operating Budget and 2013 Capital Budget. In previous years, these had been released at separate times (Capital Budget earlier than Operating Budget) to allow for a sufficient amount of time for public input. City Council will be voting on the budget on Tuesday, January 29th
Why do we need to defeat this budget? Here is what’s included:
· $13.6 million in Vacancy Management. The city is estimating it can save this amount by refusing fill vacant positions and eliminating certain positions all together. This means less civic services available to the public.
· 0 dollars for improved transit security. Early in 2012, The Winnipeg Labour Council and Amalgamated Transit Union local 1505 revealed that transit workers had experienced a 300% increase in the number of assaults since 2007. Despite this increased risk to passengers and transit workers, the city has refused to invest any operational funding into increased security measures
· $300,000 committed to accelerating the Alternate Service Delivery (ASD) review and implementation process. ASD is a euphemism for outsourcing, contracting out, and privatizing city services. The city used this process for the outsourcing of the ill-fated solid waste collection currently being undertaken by Emterra. The ASD committee wants to use these funds to outsource custodial work for the City of Winnipeg and contract out the management of the city’s golf courses
· Cuts to public grants for museums. This amounts to 5% cut to the following museums:
-$22,500 cut to the St. Boniface Museum
-$6,000 cut to the Manitoba Children’s Museum
-$7,750 cut to the Transcona Historical Museum
-$1,411 cut to the Seven Oaks House Museum
-$1,554 cut to the Ross House Museum
-$2,750 cut to the Western Canada Aviation Museum
· Cuts to United Way of Winnipeg:
-$40,000 cut to the ‘Peg’ Community Indicators System which monitors Winnipeg’s well-being in eight different areas: basic needs, health, education and learning, social vitality, governance, built environment, economy, and natural environment. It also looks at poverty indicators. This is a 100% funding cut.
-$45,000 cut to the Poverty Reduction Strategy on eliminating poverty in Winnipeg. This is a 100% funding cut.
If these cuts weren’t bad enough, the City’s Operating Budget also proposes a 50% increase in councilors ward allowance giving each councilor an additional $40,000/year for a total of $600,000. Councilors who support this increase claim the money will be used for staff and discretionary spending however this is nothing more than a smoke screen. These tax dollars will be used by councilors to promote themselves in 2013 and 2014 right before the 2014 civic election.
Finally, Mayor Sam Katz has called for $722,000 to be used to fund the Executive Policy Committee Secretariat. Basically this is a cash infusion to create political staff for the mayor. This is another attempt to use taxpayer dollars to promote the mayor and his ideas leading into the 2014 civic election
This budget calls for a determined response from organized labour. The budget is cutting millions from services Winnipeggers depend upon. It is seeking to use public money to investigate outsourcing and contracting out of city services. It is refusing to address the dire security situation on Winnipeg Transit buses and allow passengers and transit operators to experience greater threats to their well-being. It is gutting funding grants for museums which are there to tell our history to the world. It is cutting $85,000 from United Way initiatives set up to address poverty in Winnipeg.
Why are these cuts being undertaken? So councilors and the mayor have additional funds to promote themselves. Shame on this city council for gutting our services, refusing to provide transit safety, and refusing to address poverty.
Please contact your city councilor and tell them programs and services are more important than shameless self-promotion. Contact information for you councilor can be found below.
brother Dave Sauer,
Winnipeg Labour Council
City of Winnipeg contacts
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