Mayor says budget proposals not final, but tough decisions ahead
WINNIPEG -- Mayor Brian Bowman is describing the budget proposals coming from city departments as “ugly.”
Over the last week, options to cut police positions, libraries, pools and bus routes were put on the table, but Bowman says this isn’t final.
Lynne Montana, who rides the bus regularly, said she’s worried about the talk of service cuts.
"I’m hoping that they don't come about. It's hard enough to catch a bus now,” she says.
But departments are under tight targets to balance the books, as the city embarks on a new four-year budget process.
"That compounds the effect of the discussions that we're having,” says Matt Allard, chair of the infrastructure and public works committee.
Bowman and members of his inner circle say this part of the budget process is usually done behind closed doors, but this time it's being done in public.
“We do get a doom and gloom list every year,” says Brian Mayes, chair of the property and development committee.
Bowman says just because departments are bringing forward options doesn't mean they're all going to happen
“I would caution folks that are seeing some of the, some of the very ugly, very ugly decisions that are being presented to members of council, I would caution from presuming that they will all be inevitably happening," he says.
University of Winnipeg civics professor Aaron Moore says the city has limited resources: the 2.3 per cent annual property tax hike goes to roads and bus rapid transit only.
"I do think we're moving into a period of austerity. The some extent and how deep it will be it's hard to know,” says Moore.
Bowman says he's sticking to his tax pledge and even though some of the options won't come to pass, tough choices are coming.
“It does show the types of decisions that members of council and I have to make and they're not easy," he says.
The budget is set to be released in February and must be passed by the end of March.