April 18th, 2021

Council, mayor to take 10% pay cut


By Tim Kalinowski on November 25, 2020.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDtkalinowski@lethbridgeherald.com

The Finance Committee of city council unanimously passed a resolution to reduce city council and the mayor’s pay by 10 per cent in 2021 with a zero per cent increase to follow in 2022.
The motion was brought forward by Coun. Blaine Hyggen during Tuesday’s Finance Committee meeting, and is expected to save the City about $77,000. Council also reduced its travel and training budget by $56,000, or by half, in 2021.
Hyggen praised his council colleagues for showing leadership on the issue; especially when asking others in the community have had to accept cuts or take pay freezes.
“We are in trying times here with COVID, and this is an act of leadership,” he said.
Besides passing these motions reducing council pay, the Finance Committee also unanimously passed another motion sponsored by Hyggen that will freeze the City Manager’s pay as well as that of non-union management staff for 2021 and 2022. The expected savings from this move will be around $513,000 in 2021 and 2022.

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ewingbt

My main concern is the police budget. We still have a lot of work to do to clean up the mess brought to this city from the SCS that opened and increased the number of addicts on our streets dramatically and crime exploded, especially within blocks of the site where crime increased 5,967% after it opened.
Youth were attracted to the ‘party palace’ from nearby communities, and living on the streets/shelter was not that bad because they had 3 healthy meals from the soup kitchen, various groups running around the streets handing out sandwiches/drinks, free clothes, food bank and all the free drug paraphernalia you need to continue in your addiction, with very little pressure or incentive to enter in addiction treatment programs.
Police are still trying to play catch-up to the associated crime this created and organized crime it attracted to the city, which brought better pipelines for drugs, human trafficking, weapons and stolen propery brokering.
In the last few weeks there seems to be more drugs on the streets than at any time in the last 5 years . . . Lethbridge gained the reputation of being a drug addicted city internationally due to the disinformation the staff of the SCS spread, manipulating figures to make it look like the busiest consumption site in the world, and it gained an infamous reputation internationally that even attracted organized crime, since their business it selling contraband!
Although we need to make major cutbacks, we need our police more than ever!
I applaud the salary reductions by Council, but fear seeing a reduction in the police budget . . . we need them more than ever right now and it is crucial their funding is maintained.
Is the timing for no property tax increases related to the fact that city elections are less than a year away?
Everyone loves discounts, great deals, etc., but can we afford to not have increases in property taxes at this point in time?
We need our police force on the streets cleaning up this mess! We will pay more in the end and we all know it! Cutting police funding in the middle of the drug/crime crisis would be foolish!
If property taxes went up 0.3% to maintain the current police budget, then it would be important. We pay the price later, once things snowball, and we all know when that happens, the costs are dramatically more!
Not increasing property taxes will cost us all more in the end and I am very suspicious that this is in an election year, with zero confidence in the leadership after money was blown in so many other areas in the past 5 years, over $35 million for the arts, $10 million on a ‘beautification’ project downtown on 3rd avenue across from the Galt Gardens, which is now over-run by addicts/homeless, even though the shelter has more than enough room for them! Clean uo the problem, then enhance the areas . . . you are putting ‘lipstick on a pig!’

Fescue

My main concern is also the police budget. We cannot continue to shift our reliance to police enforcement to deal with our social problems. Reduce the police budget to make room for preventative efforts.

ewingbt

Preventative measures would be effective treatment programs. Crime, homelessness, prostitution on the streets, parks been taken over, are all caused by the addition. Unfortunately, those treatment programs are still a year off and once they are all up and running, finding they will need to be changed to fit the needs. In a very small percentage, 3 month programs work.
The best programs with a 78-84% success rate are 12-18 month programs that get the person treated, relapse training, upgrading if needed and job placement, with follow up by ‘volunteer’ probation officers.
We have several programs in place such as the drug courts, outreach programs, etc., that need to collaborate better for this proven model to work. We can do it . . . but until we get there, we need police so that organize crime doesn’t gain a larger foot-print in our city!
I find it suspicious that after the SCS closed and the dealers took a hit on their drug dealing business, that suddenly in the last couple of weeks, we see drugs everywhere . . . look close and you can see open drug deals and people high all over! I suspect the dealers are trying to force another large SCS on this city . . . why??? Because it was too good for business!
It attracted people from outside communities, with their 24/7 ‘party palace’ the promoted addiction and allowed the party atmosphere inside!
Dealers were constantly driving around the SCS, stopping and selling drugs there . . . business was great! They want that back!!
Until we get effective treatment programs in place, which is ‘preventative’, we need our police and they need the tools and funds for that.
It isn’t just money, they need changes in legislation and changes in by-laws that allow us to take back our streets.
Seeing homeless/addicts high, drunk and doing drugs all over the streets downtown is not acceptable! Add to that, business doorways are used as toilets, and even after the SCS opened, it didn’t change, in fact in increased.
40 years ago, I was downtown at a bar. I had my vehicle parked outside. I was not planning to stay long, but I ran into friends and drank well over my legal limit to drive. So, when it was time to go, my car was left there and I began my 2 mile walk home. 3 blocks from my home, the police van pulled up, noticed I was staggering, and put me in the van, taking me all the way back downtown, to the drunk tank in the police station, just 2 blocks from the bar I left!
Now, it’s like a drunken orgy . . . just yesterday two FN young people were having sex by the loading dock in the alley of Joblinks, for all to see! Many times I have witnessed sexual acts, and daily people with too much booze or drunks roaming the streets! I could talk for hours of what I see on the streets downtown and 95% all come back to one thing . . . ADDICTIONS.
If you added up all the costs in this city in just one year, including municipal, provincial and federal funding it would easily hit $100 million.
That includes everthing . . . healthcare, courts, jail, insurance, police/fire/EMS, security, vandalism, social services and housing programs. How much do you think it cost to lease the LSCO for a shelter and the motel on Mayor Magrath Drive and clean up costs after for COVID isolation and social distancing measures?
People were brought in from Calgary to work there and housed here!
We need police budgets intact until we have those programs in place and police can focus on cleaing up the drug houses and reduce the organized crime element here!