Archive for the ‘Budget’ Category

Police Face Finding More Savings For 2% Promise

- September 22nd, 2014

Mayor Jim Watson’s 2% tax cap promise could throw a curveball at the Ottawa Police Service, which has been planning for a 2.5% hike each year until at least 2017.

From the 2014 police budget:

“We always present a four-year outlook and that four-year outlook projected a 2.5% increase in our police budget to deal with the pressures that we have, but at the same time delivering on a $2.5-million efficiency as well,” Chief Charles Bordeleau told reporters today.

Bordeleau didn’t say that the police force will try to get the rate hike down to 2%. The service continues to find savings, Bordeleau said, but we all know that if Watson wins the election, police will have to reassess their spending plans.

This all might sound familiar.

Police, under former chief Vern White, had to rejig their budget after Watson won the 2010 election with a 2.5% promise.

So how would police do it this time?

For one, looking at more uniform positions that can be held by civilians.

And the force is trying out new ways to handle recurring calls, such as crashes. Now police have collision reporting centres.

There’s also an interesting matter of the police force’s hiring plans starting in 2015. An extra 23 officers were to join the service each year until at least 2017, but Bordeleau said police brass are taking a look at their forecasts to see if it’s necessary. He didn’t draw a line between the Watson 2% promise and the hiring analysis, but holding off on new cops would certainly provide the necessary budget relief.

There are some statistics and reports pulling the force in different directions. A Fraser Institute study released today put Ottawa-Gatineau police in the “understaffed” category. But then we have evidence that Ottawa police’s emergency calls are decreasing.

On top of all this, arbitration awards could throw financial plans off track.

Watson would have a good idea what the police’s requirements are as mayor and a member of the police services board.

I’m not predicting any drama with the 2015 police budget in December if Watson wins re-election. Police have shown they can find savings and I don’t think Bordeleau is the kind of chief who wants to poke City Hall over money.

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Follow City Hall reporter Jon Willing on Twitter at @JonathanWilling and at ottawasun.com.

Companies Pony Up For Councillors’ Events

- April 1st, 2014

It’s always useful to know what companies are sponsoring big community parties thrown by councillors. Here’s a compilation from the reports on 2013 council expenses, which was the basis of today’s story in the Sun.

As an aside, it’s interesting that only a few councillors pursued sponsors to offset the costs for throwing parties. These are all of the councillors listed on the public disclosure with events naming sponsors. Other councillors threw pricey summer barbecues or picnics or whatnot using only taxpayer funds.

(We can’t forget the sponsors for Mayor Jim Watson’s protocol-managed events, which can be found here)

College Coun. Rick Chiarelli’s New Year’s Eve Party

Ikea Canada $8,000
Leikin Management $2,000
Brady’s Pool & Spa Care $199
Scotiabank (Pinecrest) $199
KNT Nails & Spa $199
Scotiabank (Bells Corner) $199

Kanata North Coun. Marianne Wilkinson’s Kanata North Picnic

1025 Canadian Shield Ave. $2,000
Minto Communities $1,000
Richcraft Homes $1,000
Urbandale Corp. $500
Broccolini Holdings $500
Kanata Research Park $500
Novatech Engineering $500
Kanata Entertainment Holding $500

Alta Vista Coun. Peter Hume’s Annual Corn Roast

Ottawa Train Yards $10,000

Breakfast with Santa

Urbandale Corp. $8,000

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Follow City Hall reporter Jon Willing on Twitter at @JonathanWilling and at ottawasun.com.

Watson’s Call For Arbitration Changes Ahead Of Sunshine List Release

- March 28th, 2014

Mayor Jim Watson knew what was coming in the 2013 Sunshine List (released today, with more than 1,000 police employees on it), that’s why he wrote to Premier Kathleen Wynne a couple of days ago calling for changes to the province’s arbitration system, as he has done before.

Watson calls it “urgent” that the province does something. Municipalities want a task force.

Meanwhile, the minority Liberals and the opposition PCs just can’t seem to agree on how to go about doing it. Still.

Watson Letter to Wynne March 26 2014

Those Darn Commemorative Namings

- October 24th, 2013

I have to wonder if staff and consultants tasked with selling naming rights at municipal facilities pull their hair out each time council votes in favour of a commemorative naming.

As Sun City Hall columnist Susan Sherring discovered earlier this year, the once-celebrated sponsorship program isn’t really bringing in much more dough.

There are several lines in the draft of the 2014 parks, recreation and cultural services budget that provide an update on the program, which is projected to miss its revenue target by about $2 million this year.

While the Sponsorship & Advertising Branch has been successful in generating annual revenues of $1.2 million in 2013, the general state of the capital region’s economic environment is creating obstacles in achieving the revenue targets. Reductions and uncertainties in the employment levels within federal government departments mean local businesses and national companies large and small are more hesitant to enter into advertising commitments and are taking longer to make partnership decisions. The long cycle times and repeat meetings with potential partners mean fewer agreements having been signed than anticipated. Additionally, the commemorative naming of new city facilities reduces the assets available for partnerships.

(Bolding is by me.)

The city has done a good job of keeping tabs on its commemorative naming decisions on its website. It’s not easy to argue the names for the facilities should have been sold instead.

But, hey, doesn’t anyone want to put his or her name on the Rink of Dreams?

The Rink of Dreams in front of Ottawa City Hall photographed on Oct. 8, 2013.

Sorry To Tell You About Your $21K Giant Board Game

- September 25th, 2013

It’s that wonderful time of year again: City Hall’s publication of the latest quarterly spending report.

Almost all of it is run-of-the-mill stuff. Things need planning and building and it all costs money.

But every report supplies a few eyebrow-raising expenditures.

For example, the $21,920 to “print, assemble, deliver and install a replicate of a 1930s board game into a life-size outdoor version at the Cumberland Heritage Village Museum.”

A massive board game? The size of life?

You got my interest. To the World Wide Web!

And on the museum’s Facebook page we find this:

giant_board_game_cumberland

If you don’t think it’s a good use of tax dollars, well, sorry.

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Follow City Hall reporter Jon Willing on Twitter at @JonathanWilling and at ottawasun.com.