Parksville council makes quick work of draft budget

Five-year financial plan deliberations wrap up in single meeting

Parksville council wasted little time completing deliberations on its 2018 to 2022 Municipal Budget and Financial Plan.

Scheduled to host a pair of special budget meetings, council instead approved the final draft of the budget at the close of its first meeting Monday, March 26.

The financial plan will include a four per cent general fund tax rate increase for 2018 and in each remaining year of the five-year plan, city manager of finance Pamela Lovegrove said in her verbal report to council.

“I think this budget, with a four per cent increase, nobody’s gonna be jumping up and down and holding a parade for us,” Coun. Kirk Oates admitted. “But we need to make decisions that are fiscally responsible for today. If we use our surplus we’ll be mortaging the future of our children and our grandchildren.”

The draft financial plan is made up of the nearly $20 million general fund, as well as the water utility and sewer utility funds. Each will see a rate increase in 2018 and annually over the five years of the plan, with the water utility fund rising two per cent annually and the sewer fund climbing three per cent.

With only a modest audience in attendance — none of which rose to request funding — council approved a few alterations to the provisional budget it had approved in November, 2017.

A total of $183,200 in spending packages were added to the provisional financial plan, including a $30,000 expenditure for the Parks & Trails Master Plan that began consultations this month and additional staffing hours for a communications assistant and an outside custodian.

Final adjustments made during Monday’s special meeting included $5,000 to the Oceanside Community Arts Council, to be split between a planned summer exhibition of blown-glass art and the inaugural Phil Dwyer Academy of Music & Culinary Arts. OCAC also received $2,000 toward its Aging Artfully Program.

Parksville Qualicum Beach Makerspace, which had requested $2,000 to $5,000 for 2018 and ongoing annual contributions during a presentation to council in February, was awarded $2,500 for 2018 following a motion by Coun. Kim Burden, who asked that council review the hobby and tech group’s fundraising efforts before committing to future amounts.

Up to $1,000 was allotted to a Military Service Recognition Book donation, but council scrapped consideration of twice-yearly wood chipping/yard waste pickup, which would have added $17,000 to the current cost of annual pickup.

“While that may be the Cadillac version, maybe we should save where we can,” said Oates. “I think once a year will probably suffice.”

Coun. Mary Beil agreed, noting other options are available to the relatively small segment of the city that might take advantage of the pickup.

“I understand there are people with larger lots or trees, but the majority of the lots in the city are not in that situation,” she said. “There are a lot of people who offer handy-man or yard services, and the cost (for drop-off) at the transfer station is only $6.”

The final draft bylaw was approved unanimously, and will now go back to staff with the changes before returning to council for three readings and approval.

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