City hall belt-tightening - Metro US

City hall belt-tightening

Vancouver is trimming 58 jobs next year in order to avoid a hefty tax increase, city manager Penny Ballem said yesterday.

The job cuts, part of the city’s shared service review, will continue for three years and will result in 204 jobs chopped from the books by 2012. This will be accomplished through attrition across every city department.

The $61-million shortfall, Ballem said, is the result of a decline in city revenues and an increase in salaries, debt and operating costs.

The city, which isn’t allowed to run an operating deficit, would have to increase taxes by 11 per cent to meet the shortfall.

Ballem, who has been tasked with developing a plan for zero tax increase, said the city will move to consolidate its finance services, facilities, information technology and supply procurement.

Implementing the first phase of the service review — an exercise that took three-and-a-half months and engaged 1,500 employees — will save the city $10 million.

The review will be phased-in and will save $29 million over three years.

Despite the review, the city is still facing a budget deficit of almost $27 million, the equivalent of a five per cent increase in taxes.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said he wants to put all the numbers on the table and see Ballem’s plan for zero tax increase.

“We need to find that balance of delivering the services that Vancouverites need and ensuring we keep taxes under control,” he said.

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