Province of MB may have heavier hand in city of Winnipeg budget

City of Winnipeg Mayor Bowman and City Council didn’t get spending under control and now the Province of Manitoba is trying to guide then by requesting outcomes.

Sounds fair to many. There is not an endless supply of taxpayer money plus huge deficits and net debt won’t go away by themselves. Credit downgrades have already happened at the City and Prov.

Province may have heavier hand in city budget.

Joyanne Pursaga – Winnipeg SUN

Thursday, August 24, 2017, 7:11 PM

http://winnipegsun.com/2017/08/24/province-may-have-heavier-hand-in-city-budget

Archived below if needed

Commentary

There was an annual deficit before but Bowman led Council allowed it to grow mostly unchecked even after credit downgrades and net debt rising to nearly $1 Billion. This is all in City budget reports and records of council meetings available online. It was also covered extensively in the media.

They voted to increase debt ceiling, waiting to long to expropriate land so developer friendly land acquisutions take place and other influence, corruption or incompetence that should result in more criminal investigations, termination without severence or resignations.

They and the Police Board lead by Bowman appointed chairs gave into pressure from WPA and WPS after out of control OT (pensionable) and other unneccesary spending. WPS not permitted to strike but City Council didn’t require the arbitrators during negotiations to take into consideration what was sustainable.

They allowed continued double digit % increases for two years and only slightly smaller increases after. On top of this they allowed bailouts after to cover Millions in pension deficits, armoured vehicle, advanced rifles and other budget overruns. Generous pay raises for themselves while others frozen or limited to less than inflation.

Taxes going to rise

They can’t when they amoung the highest in Canada and same with most fees, fines and levies.

With at least one credit downgrade at the City and at least two at the Province plus the $1 Billion and $23 Billion nebt debt they are at risk of more unless acting. Failure to act will increase the already enormous interest payments even more. We would become the Detroit of Canada. It would be political suicide to raise taxes more or not reduce spending.

They are not cutting enough of the fat which has been one of the biggest issue so far. Many see this as lot leading by example.

Its going to get way worse as many city workers are leaving in droves due to poor management legacy left by Katz. Little to no succession planning in many areas, lack of knowledge transfer, critical thinking is discouraged, HR bullies, poor planning – its going to cost taxpayers in many ways. Many that have no choice and stay (think CUPE worker bees) have low morale and don’t care anymore. WAPSO (think managment) have increased their numbers and have double digit increases with big cash sick payouts.

Katz’s father in-law – a used car salesman is still employed by the city making over $75k as a “remarketing coordinator”.

Need to check City Annual Compensation Disclosure Reports to confirm. Assuming these complete and accurate. Does not include all forms of pay or breakdown of OT, severence etc. Even though last years Bowman hand picked EPC with Deputy Mayor Janice Lukes and Police Board Chair Scott Gillingham boasted in media that they voted to change this to provide the breakdown but delayed a vote by Council and then dropped?

They also do not list WPS officer names even senior decision makers not working front lines (not at risk of retaliation).

Bowman lead City Council (elected in 2014) has allowed WPS budget to continue to grow to almost 1/3 of the entire City budget at $288M while ignoring a 64 page detailed report and media coverage from 2014 that found WPS the most overstaffed and inefficient service in Canada.

The verified data showed 300 more officers than the City needed or could afford. Not using more of these on serious crime and recently cutting two serious crime units that partnered with RCMP officers and resourses but keep same or more on traffic duty ($afety revenue). They allowed diverting of officers from community support and other important units to revenue duty.

They allowed partnering with MPIC to pay some WPS officers with MPIC funds that should have been refunded to Manitobans after overcharging. Then officers directed to enforce with marked cars (visible warning) at locations with known and dangerous engineering deficiencies for ticket and demerit drives.

FIPPA exposed this and that MPIC were surprised when drivers safer than expected and tickets less than expected. So WPS decided it was fair and safe to ignore signed agreement and use unmarked and marked cars to park unlawfully on crosswalks, meridians, bus stops, after intersections etc…

FIPPA also exposed senior WPS John Burchill (resigned or retired than returned as consultant?) saying to MPIC the funds being used to counter City trying to reduce budget and hopefully the “data” show how effective this pilot “enhanced enforcement” is so we get more funding like this.

WPS with direction or no resistance from the City requested officers volunteer for OT (pensionable) for traffic duty when there is Transport Canada stats saying accidents well below average, a net loss after officer pay; pension contributions; much higher than normal rate of contesting and more OT for court duty on days off.

Add in higher court costs to the Prov (taxpayers) than expected from much higher than canadian average volume of alleged simple traffic matters per capita, more of the costly Justices, JJP’s, Crown and their admin staff; many cases stayed or reduced due to bad tickets, docket overfilled, accused well prepared, delays and more.

This all shows where their priority really is.

Fore more info see the regular pinned post (link in current pinned post) and http://www.wiseupwinnipeg.com

More comments:

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Archive of Sun article

Province may have heavier hand in city budget

Joyanne Pursaga

Thursday, August 24, 2017, 7:11 PM (WINNIPEG SUN FILES)

The Manitoba government has called for set “outcomes” from provincial dollars spent by the City of Winnipeg, a demand some allege will offer the city less power than it was promised over its own budget. The Progressive Conservative government pledged in April 2016 to offer municipalities “Fair Say” on how to spend provincial dollars, doling out grants cities could then divide up independently. A May 10, 2017 letter from a provincial official, however, has sparked questions on whether that’s still the case. “The provincial operating funding will be unconditional … That said, the province wants to ensure that funding is focused on the achievement of outcomes,” states the letter attributed to Grant Doak, then-deputy minister of Indigenous and Municipal Relations. “We will enter into discussions shortly with the city to define expected outcomes and establish a communications protocol for the provincial funding to be provided.” “Our priority is to work with the city to create both a one-year and five-year strategic capital plan to ensure both city and provincial priorities are met, and that we lever federal funding to match those priorities,” the letter states. The letter was sent to the city’s chief administrative officer Doug McNeil, who wasn’t available to comment Thursday. Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman was also unavailable. In an email, Bowman’s spokesman said “outstanding questions remain” on the file but the letter doesn’t prove the province is changing its position. “I’m not aware that there’s been a reversal of previous government commitments,” Jonathan Hildebrand said. Coun. Brian Mayes (St. Vital), a member of Winnipeg city council’s executive policy committee, said the letter’s tone raises questions. “I’m not surprised if the province is saying ‘We want some input.’ My concern is we’re democratically elected to set a city budget. The idea that they’ll sit down and be part of the budgeting process is concerning to me,” he added. However, Manitoba Municipal Relations Minister Jeff Wharton stressed the province hasn’t backed off from its pledge to allow more municipal control over how provincial grants are spent. “(We’re) absolutely fulfilling the promise. Fair Say is there,” Wharton said. “We’re not putting conditions on the funding,” he later added. But the NDP’s finance critic claims the opposite. “This is a major reversal of a campaign pledge,” said James Allum, who believes a lack of follow-up information will create “chaos” for cities in their financial planning. The premier’s communications director, Chisholm Pothier, repeatedly stressed that the city can still expect autonomy on how it spends provincial cash and said funds wouldn’t be withheld for municipalities who failed to deliver on any outcome.

jpursaga@postmedia.com Twitter: @pursagawpgsun

Winnipeg not only one worried about funding Winnipeg isn’t the only municipality tasked with determining what, if any, changes are in store for provincial funding. The City of Brandon, Association of Manitoba Municipalities and various chief administrative officers across Manitoba all received letters dated May 10, 2017 that noted provincial funding for municipalities will be “focused on the achievement of outcomes” and that the province expected to work with municipal leaders on capital plans. But a key municipal representative interprets the messages as a call for accountability rather than a provincial clawing back of control. “Accountability certainly doesn’t bother us. At the same time, onerous accountability certainly does,” said Chris Goertzen, president of the Association of Manitoba Municipalities. “We’ve had a commitment from this government that we will be included and we’re going to hold them to that in developing this accountability mechanism and it has to be simple, straightforward and with very few strings attached.” Goertzen said he’s still waiting for details on exactly what the letter means for municipalities but credits the province for so far delivering on its promise to give smaller governments more control over how they spend provincial dollars. Premier Brian Pallister was out of town Thursday and couldn’t be reached for comment. The premier made his initial “Fair Say” promise during the 2016 election campaign. “What you do is allow local governments to decide themselves without the necessity of having onerous, bureaucratic infringements on their time,” Pallister said at the time.

— Pursaga

About Kevin Yaworski

I use my blog to write about things I find interesting or that I think others should know about.
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