I was hopeful we could decrease the budget slightly this year but it was not to be. Sean Strickland did bring forward reducing the supplementary taxes going to reserves by 2.5 million as a permanent move that I supported as it was greater than the 1.5 million I suggested in a note to councillors.
I should also note that the budget was decreased by 3.7 percent approximately with money that was saved by the uploading of Ontario Works and Disability funds to the province.
Although there were many other small cuts, council eventually felt that a 1.20 percent increase in Regular transit with an emphasis on crowded routes (a topic I heard a lot about going door to door) and a small increase in money to fix homelessness and other programs (around .5 percent) were important.
As I said to council about the homelessness initiatives, we do know that these programs have reduced the number of “frequent flyers”, people who use emergency rooms, ambulance and police resources to an extraordinary amount because they have no other supports or help with physical and mental problems. In this way we save a little on expensive but necessary police and ambulance service.
Ten of the thirty police officers will be hired in December at a cost of 24,000 dollars. Of course this means at least 10 new officers in 2012, but I still hope we can add officers over say three years rather than the two requested.
I asked after the budget vote (I voted for the budget as I always do if I agree with it over all) for the Region to continue looking at our programs to see if some are redundant or can be made more efficient. We have done this in the past with Housing, Courts and inoculation services among others. It was too late at the 11th hour to start chopping programs and would be irresponsible in my opinion without an in-depth review. Sacred cows would stay and overlooked programs without champions would go!