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QUESNEL, BC City workers are speaking out against a city council decision to hold closed-door meetings on the proposed 2004 city budget, with council and all city department heads enjoying an elaborate dinner during the discussions.

City Council eats an elaborate steak dinner in private while they carve out massive cuts to public services, higher residential taxes and job cuts. This is not what a democracy looks like, said Dan Weiman, president of CUPE Local 1050.

Council is planning over $1 million in cuts to city services in the next three years. The bulk of those cuts are planned for 2004. To compensate for the cuts, council is proposing that residents volunteer to do city services. It has introduced an adopt-a-park, tree, road, and garden program.

City workers have launched a public campaign to stop the cuts to city services. An open letter to city council and residents asks them to contact Mayor Nate Bello and city councillors to urge them to make budget sessions open.

A copy of the letter can be found below or at http://www.cupe1050.com/CUPEletter.html and is being distributed throughout the community in English as well as Punjabi. It was published in yesterdays Quesnel Advisor as a full-page ad.

CUPE is also publicly backing the campaign launched by the community group, Concerned Citizens Against Place St. Laurent to stop the purchase of the new $8 million city hall.

Its the most expensive building of its kind in all of northern and central interior, Weiman said. Over 10 per cent of residents have already signed the petition to block the purchase of the new city hall.

People are fed up with the financial mismanagement of this council and are ready to do something about it, he added. Over the past few years, council has approved the purchase of several high-priced properties and developments that are of limited community use.

These purchases have led many Quesnel residents to question the priorities of a council able to afford luxuries such as lavish dinners and expensive developments, while they push tax increases and public service cuts to their residents.

Ever since council became obsessed with buying this massive city hall, priorities have changed from needs to wants, Weiman said. This council is protecting a big white elephant at the expense of essential city services.

An October 2003 survey revealed that 94.5 per cent of residents are happy with the services being provided. Yet council is pushing forward massive budget and job cuts to those services.

We have no choice but to fight this for the good of our community, Weiman said. His local and Local 3176 represent 150 members at the RCMP, airport, arena and recreation centre facilities, museum, fire hall, city hall, public works and the landfill.

For more information, please visit http://www.cupe1050.com or contact:

Dan Weiman, president, CUPE Local 1050
(250) 249-0054

Diane Kalen, CUPE Communications
(604)291-1940, ext. 240