Friday, May 01, 2009

Councillors zero in on '10 budget

CITY HALL: Cap on spending, salary hikes proposed

City councillors say they must act now to protect taxpayers through a deepening recession by ordering staff to bring in a 2010 budget with no tax increase.

They are also giving administrators marching orders to win collective agreements from unions that carry no wage increases throughout the life of any contract.

Union leaders have been told that negotiations about to begin have been postponed until council has its strategy in place.

Councillors agreed on those directives Thursday evening while they huddled with senior staff in a special finance committee session in the public library, and plotted a strategy to combat recessionary pressures on next year's budget.

As they alternated between open and closed-door sessions, several councillors said they are under no illusions that it will be tough to keep the lid on a cauldron of public demands that normally increase budgets.

They also conceded they have an enormous task on their hands to persuade public sector unions to fall in line on salaries.

"This should not be seen as a punitive measure," said Mayor Mike Hancock, anticipating an early angry response from the unions to council's strategy.

Good start to the process lets help them with their resolve Pr

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