Bogus budget

On Feb. 7, Winnipeg Mayor Scott Gillingham released the city’s preliminary budget for 2024 to 2027. Frustratingly, it’s the work of a city hall still dedicated to protecting the interests of wealthy property owners at the expense of the poor and working-class people who actually need help.

Gillingham is committed to raising property taxes no more than 3.5 per cent. In order to hold the line on that figure, fees are increasing on vital services that impact all Winnipeggers, particularly those of us who don’t make enough money to even consider property ownership. Transit fares will increase 10 cents (double previous years’ increases). Phone bills will increase $1 a month to fund 911 calls. Water and waste-collection fees are increasing.

But raising property taxes is, for some reason, taboo. CBC reports that the average increase on property-tax bills will be $69. But the impact of these increases are relative to the income of the individual. Why shouldn’t the nearly 100,000 Winnipeg households that earn more than $100,000 a year see their rates increase more than the same number of people who make less than $500,000 a year?

And then, of course, is the matter of where that money’s going. The already- bloated police budget is set to increase by $7 million, giving them an annual $333 million. Until Winnipeg has a mayor who will commit to building a city that serves people instead of police, roads and the wealthy, things won’t improve.

Published in Volume 78, Number 17 of The Uniter (February 8, 2024)

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