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The ugly lessons of the Bowman budget

Winnipeg's new mayor Brian Bowman knew where to find the money for the off-leash dog park he promised his friends  in the suburbs---take it from inner city children using city pools.

Bowman and his handpicked chairman of the city's finance committee, Charleswood councillor Marty Marantz,  brought a budget to city council cutting $300,000 from the aquatics recreation programs used by the children and spending $300,000 on a park where dogs can run around.

They whined a lot about how tough it was to balance the budget and how they had to make tough decisions. But all along they had no intention of saving money by reducing spending on recreation services. They just raided the kids for cash for dogs.

"I'd like to see it as a destination for Winnipeggers in the suburbs, to have a reason to come downtown..." was the way Bowman put it.

This act alone will define Bowman's term in office. 

Brian Bowman  started breaking his campaign promises almost from the first day he was elected.  His lies are piling up daily.

Bowman made a big issue about raising property taxes only at the rate of inflation. He didn't define which rate of inflation---the consumer price index, the federal, provincial or city rate of inflation.  He claimed when presenting his budget that  the  tax increase was only 2.3 percent.

As is usual with Bowman, he was cheating.  If the property tax hike of $37 on an average home translates to a 2.3 percent increase, then the $112 total annual boost in city taxes, rates and fees imposed by Bowman on homeowners is equal to a tax hike of 7 percent. 

You read that right.  Brian Bowman has raised taxes 7 percent in his first budget.  That's triple what he promised voters during the mayoral election campaign.

And he still intended on robbing money from children's aquatics.

Oh, but didn't he restore the aquatics funding when the budget came to council?

Don't forget what Bowman and I'M-MARTY-MORANTZ-AND-I'M-A-LAWYER said less than one week before the budget meeting, starting with the headline in the Winnipeg Free Press.

Finance chairman says budget cuts to Winnipeg's indoor pools will remain in place.

By: Aldo Santin. Posted: 03/17/2015 12:53 PM

...Community groups hoping to see cuts to indoor pool programming rolled back received a wake-up call Tuesday.

Finance chairman Coun. Marty Morantz said he and his fellow councillors on executive policy committee will not restore $100,000 to indoor pools, as outlined in last week’s preliminary budget.

Morantz said despite the recommendations from the protection and community services committee, he expects the cuts will remain in the budget.

...Bowman later agreed with Morantz, saying he didn’t see EPC reversing its position on the pool cuts.

So Bowman and Morantz flip-flopped in less than a week. They didn't have a change of heart. They just couldn't stand the public heat.

What's important, to remind all the lawyers (ptui) on council, is the mens rea---their true intention.

Which was to screw the kids and spend on dogs.

It took more than six years for former Mayor Sam Katz to reveal his true self to voters. And that was only after he spit in the electorate's face by promising to hold the line on property taxes, only to hike frontage fees, then claim he kept his word. (Sound familiar?) He must have thought he was being so clever, just as Bowman and Morantz do.  But this cabal need only see where Katz's cleverness brought him to see their own future.

By the way, do you know what the rate of inflation is?  It was one percent in February. We're already hearing that Bowman intends to abandon his pledge to hold tax increases to the rate of inflation, and say he only meant to do that the first year in office. 

And did you notice what was missing in the Bowman budget?  Any mention that the Canadian Museum for Human Rights was finally paying its taxes. 

Here's what the Winnipeg Free Press wrote March 4:

"On Tuesday, Brian Bowman tabled a city budget that calls for a 2.3 per cent hike in the total pool of taxes collected from city properties in 2015. This move will generate $11.7 million worth of revenue for the cash-strapped city."

That is less than the $12 million or so owed by the CMHR in current and back taxes.  If they paid their fair share, then Winnipeg would be spared any tax hike.

That is, except for the fact that Bowman is all in favour of higher taxes on homeowners.  He forgot to mention that when running for office.

 "Shifting the tax burden from the business community to homeowners is part of Brian Bowman’s long-term strategy to spur growth in Winnipeg."  (Winnipeg Free Press, March 3)

Oh, and Bowman is on the record via Twitter as saying that raising taxes proportionally on the poorest residents of Winnipeg is the best way to go.

 Wpg Mayor's Office @Bowman4Wpg Frontage levies are a flat rate per foot & are more progressive than property taxes. #wpgcouncil

Summing up Brian Bowman's short term of office you have him:

* in favour of taking money from inner city children to spend on dogs

* shifting taxes from businesses to struggling homeowners

* raising taxes the most on the poorest citizens while refusing to fight to collect taxes from the pet projects of millionaires.

Four more years, eh.

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