City must be fiscally responsible and control its spending
Hiring freeze, limiting goods and services purchases, no job losses key to Steeves’ plan
Winnipeg must avoid the fate of the NDP-led provincial government and control its expenses before the city’s budget becomes a crisis, mayoral candidate Gord Steeves said.
“Our city government is growing faster than the city itself is, and that’s not sustainable,” Steeves said. “We need to control our expenses and keep those costs in line with our growth.”
In the last five years, city salaries and benefits have risen more than 20 percent ($32 million/year), but population only grew 5.3 percent while the consumer price index increased only 7.5 percent. In those five years, the number of full-time equivalent positions increased by 580, with 70 of them in non-essential services. A hiring freeze in non-essential positions would save $5.6 million.
Goods and services purchases have grown by $62 million, an equivalent of a 15 percent property tax increase. Goods and services acquisitions should be limited to the consumer price index, which would save another $35 million per year.
With those two measures, another $40 million per year can be put into infrastructure. This $40 million also represents the equivalent of a 10 percent property tax decrease.
Steeves said these savings can be achieved without any job losses or layoffs, through attrition. He will also implement a budget control system requiring all departments prepare monthly payroll reports with actual wages by position, overtime costs and the comparison with the monthly budget. This enables variances to be dealt with promptly.
While a member of Winnipeg City Council, Gord Steeves either froze or lowered property taxes every year for 11 years. He will bring fiscal prudence back to City Hall as mayor.