Everything from installing red light cameras to a new tax on home businesses that attract customers primarily on the Internet are among submissions from the public that city councillors will hear at a special budget input session June 19.
As of late Friday afternoon, 24 people or groups had signed up to make a presentation to the finance committee on ways to save money, or in an effort to convince councillors to fund their ideas or causes.
“It definitely can make a difference,” said Ward 8 Coun. Fabio Belli, when asked whether these types of presentations can impact spending decisions. “I know that it’s very important that we hear from residents about what their priorities are.”
One suggestion submitted by resident Neil Coyne would have the city reduce the number of committees by 20 per cent in 2013 and another 20 per cent in 2014, in an effort to “reduce expenses and weed out studies that have no real value.”
The estimated savings?
“Ask Mr. Bigger,” wrote Coyne, a reference to the city’s auditor general Brian Bigger.
Aurele Lepine thinks city crews should pick up garbage and recycling on one side of the street only, saving time and fuel.
“This would allow (garbage) trucks to pass only once,” he wrote. “Every three months or so, change side of the street for pickup.”
A resident who identified herself only as “Liz” suggested red light cameras would not only raise additional cash when people are fined, but would make city streets safer.
“The number of people who blow through red lights on a daily basis is unbelievable,” she wrote. “This would make our community a safer place to live and also cut back on the number of accidents in the city.”
Robert Akkanen said it’s time the city began operating like a household, particularly when it comes to its budget.
“If you can’t afford it, unless it is vital to you, you do not buy it or borrow for it,” he wrote. “Special interest groups will have to fundraise more instead of relying on the city and me. I cannot afford any more taxes … Please get your house in order.”
Sally McInall said the city would save money in the long run by investing in a spay and neuter clinic to control the city’s animal population.
“All the shelters in the city right now are over their capacity,” she wrote. “This would save (money) in the end because it would control the pet population.”
Richard L. Paquette, who runs the Rainbow District Animal Control Shelter, is scheduled to make a pitch for such a clinic at the June 19 meeting. He’ll be joined by several other local groups who will be making presentations to city council, including Cambrian College’s Board of Directors, the Sudbury Indoor Tennis Centre and four speakers from the Greater Sudbury Tax Payers Association.
Also on the docket is a presentation from Jo-Anne Palkovits and Joe Pintur, from the St. Joseph’s Health Centre, who are looking for tax relief for Villa St. Gabriel in Chelmsford. Bill Clement will be there asking for Sudbury Transit service to St. Gabe’s.
Representatives from the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 76 will be on hand, as well, hoping to secure council’s approval for four hours of free parking for any car with special Province of Ontario Veteran license plates. The plates are provided free by the province once the veteran has provided their discharge papers, the legion stated, and the benefit isn’t transferrable after the veteran passes away.
And Lucy Landry wrote in to argue that, since so many businesses today are selling online rather than opening a storefront, the city should find a way to tax them. Otherwise, businesses who pay commercial taxes on their businesses are being discriminated against, she wrote.
“You’re losing a large amount of ‘property taxes’ through retail sales done through the ‘Net,” she wrote. “Not really fair for store-front businesses … Fair is an important word in budgeting. That’s all I have to say.”
It’s not too late for anyone who still wants to make a presentation on June 19, but you must first register with the City Clerk’s office by calling 311, or by signing up when you arrive at the meeting itself. Registration will put you in the lineup of public speakers, who will be heard in the order in which they signed up. Each speaker has five minutes to make their pitch, a time limit designed to allow as many people as possible to be heard.
Written submissions can be submitted online at www.greatersudbury.ca/budget. You can also pick up a form at any local Citizen Service Centre. The deadline for written submissions is June 25.
For more about the budget process, go to www.greatersudbury.ca or call 3-1-1.
Posted by Darren MacDonald