Is the City’s proposed budget good? Bad? Indifferent? Read its Five-Year Financial Plan for yourself

By David F. Rooney

The City has posted its new Five-Year Financial Plan on its website, located at, so people can read it for themselves and decide whether it’s good, bad or indifferent.

Council pored over the plan for weeks, debating the value of some things, tossing others out and ensuring that still more are kept in. There isn’t a lot of wiggle room — even with a five per cent tax increase on residential property.

Councillor Chris Johnston noted last Tuesday that the actual increase in the budget over last year is not as great as some people think.

“It’s actually less than the rate of inflation, which is about two per cent,” he said. “Our expenditures have gone up only 1.88 per cent and our revenues have gone up only 1.65 per cent.”

In any event, while the financial plan covers a five-year period Councillors were really only voting on one year of it — this taxation year. The rest are, as Johnston describes them “just placeholders for things that may or may not happen.” Or, as Mayor Raven prefers to regard them, a road map for the future.

“We need to have a budget for the next 12 months as well as a vision for the future,” Raven said. “It has allowances for things that may or may not come true. But if you don’t put them in there you’ll fool yourself.”

But Tony Scarcella, the only Councillor opposed to the budget as it is written now, says “we are one of the highest taxed communities in the province.”

“We have people moving out of their houses because of taxes,” he claimed.

But, from Councillor Antoinette Halberstadt’s point of view doing nothing is not an option.

“We’re fixing things that are crumbling,” she said.

In the end, Council voted 5-1 to present the budget to the public. It must be enacted by May 15.