Well the budget didn’t go to as low a percent as I would have wished, but the Regional budget came in at 1.78 % and the police budget at .88%. (Approx 38 dollars per YEAR on the tax bill) Remember, the police board not Regional council sets the police budget, we just pay the bill.
Police halved their request and ended up with 10 new officers and 10 new civilians. 5 of those civilians will be prison guards for the courts and stations, and that will free up 5 officers to get back on the street. Not only will the new officers be working on crime prevention as they patrol but the Region is growing and no matter how low crime, we still have a lot and need more officers for growth.
I won some and lost some on the budget.
I wanted some of the 8 million in infrastructure funds that come from the federal government to be used to offset the increase for the system that calls out stops and has a gps for the buses and for solving the bus overcrowding problem on the mainline, number 9 Lakeshore and 12 and Iexpress. That didn’t fly and neither did my suggestion that the one million we took out of roads last year that was put back in (This is extra money that increases the roads budget each year, so it gets higher and higher) be taken out again this year.
On the plus side, I asked the head of finance about the gaping provision where if someone leaves the region and a person is hired for less money, that the budget be adjusted to the new rate instead of staying at the old one (hope that is clear). Jim Wideman made sure that extra money was taken out for this gap when he and the other committee heads got together with staff to find some more cuts.
There were also rumblings that we should have no improvements but delegations and myself argued for the callouts of stops on the buses as required by the Human Rights tribunal and money to stop the overcrowding on buses. If we want to have a full LRT, we can’t have people stopping using the buses due to overcrowding. Also, all councillors agreed that daycare will be maintained at the present rate and we will see how the new all day jk and sk goes.
I really appreciate you raising the Gas Tax Fund issue again, and your support for transit. Hopefully this year will provide enough opportunity to work with staff and council to change the distribution of the GTF and reprioritize the various infrastructure spending for subsequent budgets.
The automated stop announcements with GPS will be an enormous improvement to GRT, and not just for those already on the bus. Assuming GRT releases the GPS data, it will allow real-time tracking of buses, which will make taking the bus much easier and friendlier.