To change things up a bit this year, I’ve decided I’m going to live tweet the experience. I’ll be using the Twitter account I use to cover city council meetings, @PDcityhall. You can follow along if you wish — it’ll be like you’re reading the budget yourself only it’ll come condensed into easily-consumed 140 character chunks. Alternately, you can bolster my fortitude by sending encouraging tweets my way. (They will be much appreciated.)
Or you can take this as a warning and unfollow that account now so you won’t be bothered by the stream of tedium I’ll be churning out tonight.
Regardless, the “fun” should start around 9pm.
UPDATE: Worked from 9ish to just past midnight and read through the summary document. Whoo hoo! That’s 6 whole pages! (I also double checked stuff in past budgets. And drank a lot of gin. I wasn’t totally slacking.) I’ll pick up again Thursday night. 9ish.
My impression of the budget so far: Not impressed by the one per cent set aside for road repair. In dollar terms, it’s only a $1.6 million increase over last year. So basically the same amount that the road repair budget has been increasing every year. I wouldn’t be surprised if the extra $1.6 million barely covers the increased costs of buying asphalt and paying workers.
Next, am I the only one to be surprised to hear that we’re selling the Municipal Justice Building on 11th and Halifax? And does it seem strange that the city says they’re getting a mere $400 thousand for it?
On the up side of this budget it’s nice to see the city adding 15 low-floor buses to the transit fleet this year. And they’re replacing six paratransit buses. Yay transit!
Also worth noting is the situation around the one per cent of the PST we get from the provincial government. This year, that works out to $39.9 million. Which is pretty sweet. But apparently the province changed the formula for calculating the money municipalities get and as a result we’re getting $2.5 million less than what we expected based on the old formula. The city suggests this is another factor contributing to the seven per cent mill rate increase.
As for that hefty hefty mill rate increase… don’t know what to think yet. For years I’ve kind of advocated for bumping the property tax rate higher to cope with housing and the infrastructure deficit. But now that we’re getting that bump, I’m wondering if we’re doing it for the right reasons. Think I’ll have to read more before I come to a decision. It’s a gutsy move for this council. We haven’t had a mill rate increase above 4.5 per cent since at least 2003. Of course, this is coming at the start of year two in this council’s term. This will be largely forgotten come election time in 2016. Best to get the big jump out of the way now, I guess.