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Six Win­nipeg City Coun­cil­lors are launch­ing a social media blitz ask­ing Win­nipeg­gers to join them in send­ing a mes­sage to May­or Sam Katz: he should think twice about con­tro­ver­sial bud­get choic­es like recre­ation fee hikes, frontage levies and using sew­er and water rev­enues for gen­er­al rev­enue — all of which hit work­ing fam­i­lies the hardest.

Coun­cil­lors Ross Ead­ie, Jen­ny Ger­basi, John Orlikow, Mike Pag­takhan, Har­vey Smith, and Russ Wyatt have pooled their resources to launch a run of radio ads on CJOB today as well as a Face­book page No Way Sam” that asks Win­nipeg­gers to call the mayor’s office at 9865665 or e-mail him at mayor@​winnipeg.​ca to say No way” to this budget.

The Coun­cil­lors said that the Mayor’s approach means that work­ing fam­i­lies are being asked to pay more with­out get­ting improve­ments in infra­struc­ture or recre­ation ser­vices in return.

We are call­ing for an open and respon­si­ble bud­get,” said Coun­cil­lor Wyatt. There should be a bet­ter way to bal­ance the bud­get than hik­ing frontage levies and Recre­ation fees for work­ing families.” 

The frontage levies are also a regres­sive” tax mea­sure, which means every­one pays the same, no mat­ter their income or the val­ue of their prop­er­ty. In prac­tice, it means that own­ers of low­er-val­ue prop­er­ties with a wide lot may pay much more than peo­ple with high­er-val­ue prop­er­ties with a small lot. In one exam­ple, a home worth $75,000 on would pay $84.15 — near­ly five times as much as the $17.85 paid by a mil­lion-dol­lar res­i­dence worth 13 times more.

Though it has been argued the frontage fee is jus­ti­fied because it costs more to ser­vice larg­er lots, the bud­get shows the funds going to gen­er­al rev­enue, and not being ded­i­cat­ed to fix­ing infra­struc­ture and roads.

Using sew­er and water fees for gen­er­al rev­enue is also con­tro­ver­sial, since the City of Winnipeg’s com­bined rates for sew­er and water are among the high­est in Canada.

This is a fun­da­men­tal issue of tax fair­ness,” said Coun­cil­lor Pag­takhan. The May­or has cho­sen as his main new source of rev­enue a levy that sim­ply does not take into account the homeowner’s abil­i­ty to pay, and that isn’t right.” 

The issue of recre­ation fees are also sig­nif­i­cant because city facil­i­ties are an afford­able way for fam­i­lies and chil­dren to get involved in sports and exer­cise. The May­or has jus­ti­fied increas­es by say­ing that the pro­grams aren’t profitable.

Coun­cil­lor Ger­basi said that prof­it-mak­ing is not the main rea­son for pro­vid­ing recre­ation pro­grams. They’re not a busi­ness, they are a ser­vice we pro­vide that helps fam­i­lies exer­cise and play togeth­er, and keeps kids out of trouble.” 

The six coun­cil­lors say that the May­or needs to go back to the draw­ing board and find a fair solu­tion We are will­ing to be a part of any delib­er­a­tions, but so long as it is a closed process, the onus will remain on the May­or to pro­pose solu­tions,” said Coun­cil­lor Smith.

Con­tact:

Coun­cil­lors

Ross Ead­ie – 9865188

Jen­ny Ger­basi – 9865878

John Orlikow — 9865236

Mike Pag­takhan – 9868401

Har­vey Smith — 9865951

Russ Wyatt — 8034049