Vision Vancouver-controlled council approves job and service cuts, 2.26 percent tax hike

A billion dollars is a lot of money.

Today (December 18), Vancouver city council approved next year’s budget, which includes expenditures approaching this amount—$959,849,000 to be exact.

But, according to Non-Partisan Association councillor Suzanne Anton, the way the Vision Vancouver majority on council divvied up this close to a billion dollars wasn’t in the manner many Vancouverites wanted.

Starting next year, Anton told reporters, citizens who use libraries will notice that they have shorter hours. Residents who go to community centres will find their opening hours reduced as well. Parks will be maintained less, and more garbage will go uncollected.

For those residents who hoped that Mayor Gregor Robertson and his caucus would save the Bloedel Conservatory and the children’s petting zoo at Stanley Park from the chopping block, they’ve just been handed a big letdown.

Robertson stated during the special meeting this morning that council could not lift a finger to maintain these facilities.

A furious Paul Faoro, president of Local 15 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents inside city workers, slammed the Vision-dominated council in a media scrum after the meeting.

“This council has just endorsed the privatization of the farmyard,” Faoro rapid-fired. “This council has just endorsed the privatization of the conservatory. This council has just endorsed the cutting of library hours. This council has just endorsed the cutting of community-centre hours across our city. This council has just endorsed cuts to services that the public demand, like inspection services.”

City employees are not going to be spared by the budget cuts.

According to Faoro, the equivalent of 177 full-time positions will have to be cut, meaning staff are facing layoffs.

“Our union and the rest of the unions have not yet been told the specifics of those, which just goes to our ongoing complaint that there has not been proper consultation,” Faoro said of the coming job cuts.

At the meeting, Coalition of Progressive Electors councillor Ellen Woodsworth proposed a three-percent property tax increase for both residential and business ratepayers.

Woodsworth explained that this will save city services from getting slashed, and she was applauded by people watching from the gallery for making this suggestion.

However, her motion was voted down by the Vision and NPA councillors.

Vision councillor Raymond Louie, chair of the city services and budgets committee, instead proposed a 2.26-percent property tax hike.

Under the current tax-shift policy, business will have to pay only a minimal tax increase for their properties and the bulk of the increase will be transferred to residents.

This means that next year residential property taxpayers will have to shoulder a 4.26-percent tax increase. In a media scrum, Robertson explained that with the tax shift businesses will pay a tax increase of just over 0.2 percent.

Other measures council approved in the meeting:

Ӣ Exempt staff will give up one percent of their four-percent salary increase for 2010, saving the city $650,000.

Ӣ Increased funding of $153,000 for the retention of the Riley Park library branch.

Ӣ Increased funding of $192,000 to Vancouver Public Library branches serving vulnerable populations.

”¢ Increased funding of $419,000 to maintain current operating hours at the library’s central branch.

”¢ $500,000 to fund the city’s emergency homeless shelter program on an ongoing basis.

Comments

6 Comments

Marcus

Dec 19, 2009 at 7:35am

Once again Parks is on the short end of City funding. Mayor Robertson committed to supporting recreation for at risk youth during a 4 Pillars meeting on gang violence at the Roundhouse. Yet when the financial crunch hits promises are forgotten and community centres have their hours reduced. Vision Vancouver's commitment to preventative youth services is questionable at best.

9 8Rating: +1

PEPLEXED

Dec 19, 2009 at 8:09am

That's it? From a billion dollar budget? Details...please.

10 7Rating: +3

Tom Folkestone

Dec 19, 2009 at 5:28pm

Say hello to Vision Vancouver, the new NPA. A very sad day for those of us who helped get this mob elected. Disillusioned? You betcha.

9 5Rating: +4

Akbar

Dec 19, 2009 at 8:28pm

How did they justify the 4% raise for management in the first place? Rolling it back to 3% is still substantially higher than the government's official 1% inflation rate.

9 9Rating: 0

Reed

Dec 20, 2009 at 7:27am

Does this mean Faoro will give up his support of Vision? CUPE members should know that they actually paid Vision more than a $250,000 in political contributions to enable Vision to fire them! That's called business unionism. Faoro supported Vision almost from its inception. Faoro and the other so-called 'left' (really they are a micro-metre to the left of the Dead Centre) union leaders have no idea of what a new politics would look like.

9 8Rating: +1

june

Dec 20, 2009 at 9:24pm

Gregor and his Vision group are a big disappointment. Why can't they go after Gordo's decision to spend 460 million on a new roof for B.C. Place? Tell the fans to bring umbrellas. Or listen to the thousands of homeowners who said raise taxes instead of cutting services. I'm a single parent homeowner who would gladly pay more taxes to keep community centers, pools, etc. affordable for all. Vision's social policies are starting to look more like Gordo's.

9 9Rating: 0