A Few Thoughts on Week 49

Coming out of the deep freeze.

  • One thing that is new this year is the Mayor’s office putting out social media infographics on Police, Community and Social Services, Sewer Infrastructure, Transit funding increases.
    • Where I run into trouble with this is that municipalities are incredibly complicated and interconnected. To boil down a budget that is literally 1000+ pages to a pretty picture with a few numbers disingenuous at best and misleading at worst.
    • If we unpack the police budget infographic for example, and add a few more cities (some of those listed in the Windsor Work report for example) to the list and look at other data we see this.
  • Windsor has one of the worst crime severity index scores then most listed which isn’t a conversation for some reason. Yes crime was down this year, as has been announced, but there was also a pandemic happening, the border was closed etc, The numbers presented are just top line increases but (I am not sure) if every one of these services are operating at the same levels of service.
    • The City of Toronto Police Services came in with a voluntary 0% increase to the police budget. London, Waterloo regions that we love to compare ourselves too both came in beneath Windsor, despite being larger regions and populations.
    • Halton and Peel regions do certainly have larger increases but are also some of the fast growing regions in Canada as well as being truly regional police forces.
    • So ya…. heck an argument could be made we should invest in police but as I would assume most of the crime petty/non severe crime occurring in certain parts of the City.
    • Oh by a the way, as a tease for this month’s Mean, Median and Moose episode is going to talk crime and justice data in Canada.
  • The Social and Community also irk me as it is true that it makes up about 1/3 of the City budget but 80%+ or more in most cases are funded through transfers and grants from upper levels of government. Some program like welfare is administered by the City for the region, but is almost 100% funded by the province and most of the funds are just flow through to benefit recipients. The staff although technically City employees but are paid out of Provincial coffers transferred to the City, not property taxes.
  • Unless the City is counting the Tax Levy as a grant to these departments (which would be weird) you don’t see the levy actually impacting Community Development costs across of the departments (Employment Social Services or Housing and Children’s Services).
  • Looking at the expenditure side – almost 80% of funds are flow through. Where you might see the Levy involved is some of the “administrative” functions.
  • Even we as assume that of the 20% of the $270M Social Service budget comes from the levy, most of those investments are locked into fixed ratios. The question that needs to be asked is what digressionary spending is going into this space? P2P ends up on the “Not Recommended” cuts every year while there seems to be a debate this year about expanding a highly successful street outreach program vs keeping the levy at 0%.
  • Plateauing???
  • What does a spring time in Red/Yellow look like?
    • Our 7 day average of cases remains in the range of the Wave 1 peak, and I don’t see it in the numbers coming down. So where do we go from here? If Green requires less than 10 cases per day reporting, I am not sure what it takes to get there.
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Izzy isn’t impressed with the sidewalk not being shoveled by the school board

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