Friendly Update, City Hall: What’s Up With That Budget?

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I’m sitting in a cafe in Valetta, Malta’s capital. It’s the coldest day we’ve had here so far, 14C and rainy. When we got here in September, it was so hot and dry (hadn’t rained since April) that everywhere was brown and yellow. Only the cacti were green. Right now, everything is lush and in bloom. The trees are heavy with oranges.

This is winter in Malta. I could only be happier if the cappuccino I’ve ordered was here right now. (And yes, I’m 100% aware of how lucky I am.)

Anyway, I was idly reading through the twitter feed for my @PDCityHall account and saw some chatter about the budget that was passed on Monday. And I’m curious, what does everybody think? Is it a home run as Mayor Fougere is saying? Or a total disaster?

Personally, I haven’t read it. (Hey, remember February when I live tweeted a read-through of the last budget? What was I thinking? I’m NEVER doing that again. Unless I do.) And I’ve only read Kevin Martel’s coverage over on Newstalk. (Don’t have an online sub for the L-P. I suppose I could cheat and read their stuff anyway… but that’s not cool. But speaking of not cool… Hey Leader Post! Autoplay video? That is very rude. Knock it off.)

I’m especially curious to hear what Barb has to say on the subject. In a comment on another post she mentioned something about a catch-22 regarding sidewalks. What’s that about? Sounds like it’d be right up my alley.

I’ll sign off with a pic of Valetta I took last week when I was in Sliema (which is just across the harbour).

valetta

Author: Paul Dechene

Paul Dechene is 5'10'' tall and he was born in a place. He's not there now. He's sitting in front of his computer writing his bio for this blog. He has a song stuck in his head. It's "Girl From Ipanema", thanks for asking. You can follow Paul on Twitter at @pauldechene and get live updates during city council meetings and other city events at @PDcityhall.

9 thoughts on “Friendly Update, City Hall: What’s Up With That Budget?”

  1. I heard one report on radio to the effect that the city would not enact the special levy (under the Local Improvement Plan) to pay for sidewalk repair unless the repair was requested by residents. (Gosh, I thought that all sidewalk repair had its origin in citizen requests.) Anyhow, the problem with the special levy is that it extra-taxes local residents for repairs that ideally should be coming out of the city budget, and the only way up to now to avoid that extra tax has been to get a significant number of neighbourhood signatures on a petition that respectfully declines to have the work done.
    I’ve been looking for details on this but I must be looking in the wrong places because I cannot find anything except a mention that $1.8 million was being set aside for road and sidewalk repairs. That sum won’t go very far…unless, of course, people with deteriorating sidewalks simply clam up and live with the situation. That’s the catch-22.

  2. The sidewalk repair levy is just another hidden subsidy reenforcing the automobile as our only important mode of travel. Everyone is a pedestrian at some point in their journey (unless you live in your car and only eat drive-through), without sidewalks aren’t we all just walking on the road, ‘in the way’. Another example of this is the City plowing streets (occasionally) but leaving the sidewalks to residents. Why don’t we have to clear the streets in front of our houses too?

  3. Barb: Yeah. This dedicated annual 1% mill rate thing (which is, I’m guessing, that $1.8 million) is a pittance. It makes a nifty sound bite but it’s really nothing. And it isn’t that far off what the road repair budget increased by annually before this. So it’s just a way to highlight an increase that would be happening anyway. I’m not sure it improves things substantially. Especially with the cost of doing this work increasing by 3% or more a year.

    And yes… I think the fact that people won’t pay for sidewalk repairs means that instead of that work getting done, it’ll just be indefinitely postponed until the walks are unusable. They already are in some places.

  4. cranky: Yes!

    And also, the city plowing the streets onto private sidewalks. Can’t forget about that!

  5. By “private sidewalk”, I assume you mean the public sidewalk adjacent to a homeowner’s property, which said homeowner is supposed to keep free of snow and ice, regardless of what the city crews do.

    This morning I saw an illustration of why sidewalk care needs to be everyone’s concern… and why street and sidewalk snow needs to be REMOVED, not just moved. Several group homes are concentrated within view of my house. Two have residents with mobility issues, and ramps attached to the buildings. A Paratransit driver could not get close enough to one such home because of scraped snow in the parking lane, an unshovelled walk, and employee/other group home parking (!). An old lady with a walker, once she had descended the residence’s ramp, had to negotiate the treacherous sidewalk before she could get to the vehicle’s ramp, poised on top of the scraped snow. She made it OK, but I can well imagine how scary that was.

    Someone should undertake a study of why the city allows heavy concentrations of institutions in residential areas, and then doesn’t see to it that the special problems of these institutions (e.g. snow removal and parking issues) are addressed. I have no problem with any of these group homes; some are of long standing, and all serve very worthwhile purposes, but the city treats them as if they are single-family homes, or duplexes, which they are not.

  6. Ha ha! Nice try, Barb! You are NOT going to suck me into a discussion of sidewalk shoveling when I’m in Malta! It’s going to hit 20°C today and all I have to shovel off my walk is sunshine.

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