December 17, 2013 5:46 pm
Updated: December 31, 2013 1:10 pm

Council approves budget and property tax hike

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WINNIPEG – After a six-hour special meeting Tuesday, Winnipeg city councillors voted in favour of a 2014 budget that includes a 2.95 per cent property tax hike for homeowners.

A number of people spoke out against the tax hike, including former city councillor Garth Steek.

“The citizens of Winnipeg are tired of waste, mismanagement and incompetence,” Steek said.

“This budget fails Winnipeggers,” Coun. Jenny Gerbasi said.

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The debate at city hall provided a platform for potential 2014 mayoral candidates. Former mayoral candidate Judy Wasylycia-Leis and declared candidate Gord Steeves spoke against the tax hike during public statements. Coun. Scott Fielding last fall quit Executive Policy Committee, the mayor’s inner circle, to protest the tax hike, and said he is seriously considering a run for mayor.

The city capital budget was approved 11-5 (Fielding, Gerbasi, Ross Eadie, Paula Havixbeck and John Orlikow against). The operating budget, which included the tax hike, passed 9-7 (Harvey Smith, Dan Vandal, Fielding, Gerbasi, Eadie, Havixbeck and Orlikow against).

Mayor Sam Katz said he was relieved the budget was approved.

“I can tell you, every day emails come in, some phone calls, letters, saying our roads, our bridges, our recreational facilities — we want to see these improved,” Katz said. “And quite often you’ll see people saying, ‘You know what? I don’t mind paying for it if the money goes there.’ ”

Two per cent of the tax hike will be dedicated to improving local and regional roads. Sherbrook Pool will also receive funding.

City employees will be forced to take 3.5 unpaid days off each year under this budget.

“Our members are the backbone of this city,” said CUPE 500 president Mike Davidson, who spoke against the budget.

© 2013 Shaw Media

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