OTTAWA – The Ottawa Budget Coalition is pleased that programs and funding are protected in the 2007 city budget, but says the “tax freeze compromise” and the “gapping” of city staff won’t solve long-term problems.
“While we are happy about the funding for the community sustainability plan, we remain concerned about what kind of cuts we will face next year,” said David Hole, Executive Director of the Southeast Ottawa Centre for a Healthy Community. “Because of the decisions taken today, we will face tough decisions within a year about how to deal with chronic funding shortfalls.”
Avoiding a tax increase by depleting the surplus, dipping into reserves and gapping city staff may have balanced the 2007 budget, but it is not sustainable and sets our community up for upheaval in 2008, said Diane O’Neill, Executive Director of the Aladdin Child Care Centre.
“We will be dealing with an even larger funding shortfall for the 2008 budget,” O’Neill said. “And the current gapping measures will mean fewer staff dealing with a growing City population – this is not sustainable, and not prudent.”
Community activists vowed to make adequate funding for cities a priority issue in the coming provincial election.
“We will be pressuring the province to adequately fund municipalities so that we do not have to face a bloodbath budget after budget,” said Shellie Bird CUPE Local 2204 (child care workers).
Bird said that community groups will be approaching councillors and the Mayor for their support in pressuring the province.
“Working together, we can end the era of downloading and under-funding,” Bird said. “It is past time to fix the real fiscal imbalance in this country.”
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