Residents share financial concerns at open house
LONDON, ONT. -- Discussion ranged from tax increases, to housing, to service cuts when Londoners got their first look at the proposed multi-year budget.
The city of London held its first public information session Saturday revealing the proposed 2020-2030 budget.
"I came down because I wanted to say my piece, whether it does anything or not, I don't know," says Kevin Worts, who has lived in London for 42 years.
"Everyone likes to sit back and not say anything, but as soon as the tax increase comes, they are all hollering."
Worts brought a list of questions to ask municipal staff. He wants the city to run more efficiently, and isn't thrilled about a possible rolling 4.5 per cent tax increase.
"A lot of people can't afford it, especially seniors like myself," Worts added. "I know a lot people don't mind the increase but $200 to me is a lot of money."
London resident Gary Brown doesn’t mind the tax increase and says he doesn't think the overall budget is too far off. He is concerned however about the city's climate and homelessness crisis.
"I often find the city is a crisis managed organization," says Brown. "Do we vet out a little to everyone and everyone suffers? Do we decide to invest in homelessness? We do need to decide where to focus and laser beam that money in particular projects."
Mary-Ann Hodge was with a group interested in the climate emergency declared by the city, and how the budget might address that issue. "Things that relate to climate emergency, they actually relate to all aspects of life," says Hodge.
"London has housing and homeless crisis, but they can be addressed as well as climate emergency. It's about planning smart and thinking long term."
City staff members were on hand to discuss all aspects of the budget. Treasurer Anna Lisa Borbon says they've tried to lay it out as a series of choices with the context of limited resources.
"This year in particular the challenges have been compounded...with many things coming at us at the same time," says Borbon.
"Provincial downloading in particular. That has had a significant impact. And a lot of needs of the community that council has forwarded through the strategic plan for us at the city to address. There are a number of choices and impacts and that is why it's so important to hear from public to provide feedback on that process..."
The next chance for the public to see the budget in person will be Wednesday at Goodwill Industries from 6 to 8 p.m.
The dates of the public information sessions can be found here.