What’s that expression? Watch your pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves?

That appears to be the thinking behind Edmonton city council’s nickle and dime cuts to the city budget. On Monday, they cut the increase to garbage and recycling services budget by $500,000, which saves the average homeowner a grand total of 30 cents a month. Then on Tuesday, after hours of debate, they pruned the proposed increase to the monthly sewer fees from a proposed $1.07 to 96 cents —  a saving of 11 cents a month.

Well, how am I going to spend my 11 cents  month saving?

When I was a kid, 11 cents could have bought me 11 pieces of Double Bubble bubble gum, or 22 pieces of MoJo candy, which actually sold for two for a penny.  I could have bought two Pep Chew bars (a rock-hard mint-flavoured, chocolate coated candy bar), and it would have been just one penny short of getting a bottle of Coke, which cost 12 cents, two cents of which was for deposit. If you were lucky enough to find  pop bottle on the street on your way home from school, you could turn it in at the local store for 2 cents, or two Double Bubbles or FOUR MoJos.  (For the benefit of anyone who might be reading, no, I am not 90 years old. Those are actual prices from my childhood in the 1960s.)

But this is 2010, when the value of a penny is less than the cost of producing the penny. I guess we should be thankful that city council spent hours cutting $500,000 from the sewer budget. I suppose they aren’t kidding when they say they’re looking after every penny.

But while it appears we’re saving pennies, we’re actually not even doing that. The 11 cents a month “saving” is, in fact, just 11 cents less than the proposed INCREASE of $1.07. Same goes for the 30 cent “cut” in garbage and recycling services, which is in fact an INCREASE  of $1.49 a month. So after all this debate, we’re “saving” 41 cents a month — which is in fact an increase of $2.46, or something in that neighbourhood.

But hey, I guess we should be thankful. I’m thinking of putting my 11 cent “savings” in the bank every month for my retirement. At this rate, I should be able to retire comfortably in 2150.


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