Tinkering with the budget by cutting spending in one area to bring in new initiatives does not address the real problems with spending at city hall, Clive Doucet said yesterday at the first mayoral candidates debate since the registration deadline closed.

“If we want to live within our means, we actually have to change the machine,” said Doucet.

The position only earned a smattering of applause from a crowd packed into council chambers for the discussion centering on city spending.

Halting new spending without corresponding reductions has been a central part of Jim Watson’s financial platform, but he said there will be new money for spending from assessment growth and new payments in lieu of taxes.

“There are going to be new initiatives brought forward for the simple reason that I am proposing any new spending be brought forward at 2.5 per cent as a maximum,” said Watson.

Not surprisingly, the entire panel was in favour of a “no new money” initiative.