By: Winnipeg City Councillor Kevin Klein, representing Charleswood-Tuxedo-Westwood
The number of court challenges the City is fighting has increased exponentially since 2014. Recently, the court declared that Mayor Bowman's Impact Fee was a violation and ordered that the City pay the millions collected by this newly implemented tax.
The Impact fee was sold to residents by Mayor Bowman and his paid EPC team as making developers pay for development. Those statements are misleading given taxpayers had to pay more to buy a new home. At the time I am writing this, the Mayor has still not given the money back to the residents who paid it, and because of that, you are paying the daily interest rate imposed by the court, not the Mayor or any of his paid EPC members.
I moved a motion at City Hall to instruct the Public Service to pay back the taxes within 90-days. I don't have the opportunity to speak until the September City Council Meeting. I predict that Mayor Bowman will order one of his inner-circle to stand at the council and push the motion backward. That means residents may have to wait longer, and you will have to pay more towards the growing interest charges. That is not what we should expect from a Mayor.
That led me to investigate the overwhelming amount of your tax dollars spent fighting residents and businesses because the Mayor believes it's his way or no way. That is costing taxpayers millions every year.
I recently learned that the City is paying for several lawyers, between 8 and 12, to fight the Parker Lands development. The lawyers were involved in discovery for nine full days.
How much do you think the bill was for that many lawyers for that specific period?
One would be safe to assume, considering just the nine days, a cost of approximately half a million dollars. That doesn't include the prep time and many other costs associated with developing a defense.
I feel it's essential to determine if these legal expenses will generate a return. Therefore I asked the Mayor and CAO to provide me with details because I want to use facts to determine if this is the best use of your tax dollars. I sent my official request on Monday, August 17th.
It is unacceptable to hear from the Mayor and his EPC members continuously, that money is tight when they are allowing these unnecessary expenses to grow out of control because they don't have experience in business negotiations.
Most lawyers I've spoken with tell me it is more cost-effective to settle than to go to court. You would think having a Mayor who is a lawyer would heed that advice.
Sign up for Community Email Notices, click here, to find out when and if the Mayor will allow the CAO to provide us with the facts.