Attempt to cut another $1M called an election ploy
A last-minute attempt to delay passing Greater Sudbury's budget failed Tuesday evening, with some councillors accusing the mayor of being motivated by re-election concerns, rather than budgetary ones.
Mayor Marianne Matichuk moved a motion to delay passing the budget until January, and to direct CAO Doug Nadorozny to find between $500,000 and $1 million in cuts to reduce the 2.9-per-cent property tax increase.
“We can do better,” Matichuk said, adding that she spoke to Nadorozny before the meeting, she believes it can be done. “We know … there are families and seniors struggling to stay in their homes. We owe it to them do the best we can.”
As it stands now, homeowners in the city will be paying 2.9 per cent more next year, which translates into an additional $74 for houses valued at $230,000, or $158 for homes valued at $490,000. The city budget for 2014 totals $502 million, including a capital budget of $95 million, as well as support for Advanced Medical Research Institute of Canada, the city's fledgling medical research facility.
Matichuk was supported by Ward 9 Coun. Doug Craig, who said he'd promised residents who called him he would fight for a lower tax increase. And Ward 10 Coun. Frances Caldarelli said 2.9 per cent is a big hike and it would be worthwhile to try and reduce it.
But Ward 11 Coun. Terry Kett reacted angrily, saying they have been working on the budget since June. The time to find more cuts has passed, he said.
“Don't tell our staff to cut $1 million — you do it,” Kett told Matichuk. “You find a way without cutting services.”
Ward 2 Coun. Jacques Barbeau and Ward 12 Coun. Joscelyne Landry-Altmann accused Matichuk of being more concerned with re-election in 2014 than with saving money.
“Frankly, this is nothing more than showmanship,” Landry-Altmann said. “And let's not forget there is re-election next year.”
In the end, the motion to delay the budget failed, and the 2014 budget was approved.