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Pay at the meter

Parking rates may jump under zero tax plan

Nathan VanderKlippe
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Jan 18/02) - If deliberations this week are any indication, parking in Yellowknife is going to become a lot more expensive but taxes will not rise in 2002.

That comes after nine hours of city draft budget deliberations in Tuesday and Wednesday marathon meetings.

In the end, the priorities, policies and budget committee will recommend that city council cut $149,000 from its $17-million draft capital budget and $230,000 from its $25.6-million draft operations and maintenance budget at its special Monday meeting.

Among the recommendations from the meetings are:

These recommendations give the city a zero-deficit budget. However, the solid waste levy is still likely to rise, as draft figures for the solid waste fund leave it $257,000 in the red. That would mean a 20 per cent rise in the levy, rather than the 30 per cent hike originally predicted.

Council will reassess the garbage levy in a few months.

Earlier contention on the issue of a waste management coordinator proved moot as the $135,000 line item passed easily on a 5-2 vote. Only councillors Alan Woytuik and Dave McCann opposed its inclusion. A subsequent motion to make the coordinator's position temporary failed.

Overall, the debate was restrained despite sometimes hostile ideological differences. Angry accusations of grandstanding from both sides were followed in due course by laughter and cooperation on other issues by often ideologically-opposed councillors.

Coun. Woytuik, on agreeing with Coun. Kevin O'Reilly to oppose a motion giving the Yellowknife Ski Club $10,000 in core funding, remarked, "We agree. I'm shocked, totally shocked."

Unlike last year, councillors moved along a fairly linear process this time around, inching forward page by page through the two budget books. Last year, councillors leaped back and forth through ideas in an acrimonious debate that at one point saw discussion delayed by a week for staff to make recommendations on $100,000 in cuts.

However, despite these recommendations, the budget wars are not over yet for 2002. Ideological lines split council evenly on many votes and Mayor Gord Van Tighem had to break ties on nearly a half-dozen motions.

"We're going to have to go through it all again, so stay tuned," warned McDonald.