“Since the pandemic, ETS has also seen a change in rider travel patterns. Since the onset of the pandemic, ETS has seen a change in fare purchasing behaviours, with an increased reliance on cash, tickets and discounted fares, and a decrease in monthly transit pass sales. This directly impacts the amount of fare revenue ETS collects.”
Plugging The Budget Holes
For Coun. Jennifer Rice, the transit shortfall is part of a bigger question. If the City doesn’t plug the spots where it’s leaking money now, how will we know we won’t be running into deficit issues in the years to come?
Each time I’ve met the Ward Ipiihkoohkanipiaohtsi councilllor in person, she roughs out math equations on a piece of paper. Charts. Graphs. Questioning budget numbers and how or why the City got there. She also surveys her constituents regularly, and uses those polling numbers to inform her votes in council.
And, while she understands that a $43 million chunk of the $73.8 million is going to staffing costs — a one-time spend — there are other red flags in the deficit that are worrying her.
“What happens next year if we’re down again? We can’t do it,” said Rice.
Rice is also worried that revenues from City permits will be down $6 million, and she wants to know how that happened.
And, The Bullshit
Part of a journalist’s job description is having to cut through a lot of bullshit.
And, if there is a term that deserves “bullshit hall of fame” status, it can be found in the City’s budget update, which went to council this month. It warns that the City will need to dip into the reserves to cover a record $73.8 million annual deficit.