COPE councilors David Cadman and Ellen Woodsworth are proposing budget solutions that don’t cut into services, lose workers’ jobs or put the tax burden on residents.
Proposed solutions to close the approximate $29 million budget gap include:
*Putting a true freeze on hiring. This means freezing management positions as well as city worker positions.
*Ending the practice of “forgiving” parking tickets.
*Demanding that VANOC help cover the losses in parking revenue from street closures during the Olympics.
*Selling the $185,000 worth of Olympic tickets the city has purchased.
*Ensuring the Province pays the Olympic costs they already committed to covering.
*Canceling the tax shift of 2% from businesses onto residents. Introducing a modest property tax increase of .5-1% (instead of 2%) could save services.
The COPE councilors are particularly concerned with the park and library cuts of $4.4 million to meet the council’s budget targets. As a result, library hours will be cut, the Bloedel Conservatory shut down, the Stanley Park farm shuttered, and community centres will have fewer staff.
According to Councillor Cadman, “with a bit of ingenuity and a cancellation of the tax shift, there is no reason why we need to cut services.”
Councillor Woodsworth continues, “I am hearing from concerned residents that they don’t want to lose services. With a modest property tax increase instead of the tax shift, we can make sure that services are affordable and available to everyone.”