Parksville’s council learned last week the city will likely wind up with a surplus from its 2017 budget. The money may come in handy in 2018.
Council unanimously approved its 2018-2022 provisional financial plan during a special budget deliberation meeting Thursday, Nov. 16, at the Parksville Civic and Technology Centre.
Prior to the budget deliberation, council was presented a budget variance report by director of finance Lucky Butterworth, who provided an update on where the city stands on its 2017 budget through the end of the third quarter, Sept. 30.
After Butterworth told council the city was “not going to spend all” of its $17,210,910 capital works budget, Mayor Marc Lefebvre asked what that meant for the overall budget.
“Are there any carryovers because of budget surpluses?” Lefebvre asked.
“It’s too early to tell where we’re going to be versus the projected budget at the end of the year,” Butterworth answered. “But my prediction is we’ll be under budget.”
Asked by council when he could provide a dollar amount, Butterworth pointed out he has to make more than 100 budget adjustments at year-end to arrive at a figure.
“I probably won’t have that final number until February,” he said. “I could probably give an estimate before that time, but it would only be an estimate.”
Over the course of two budget deliberation sessions, council approved the addition of a series of additional 2018 expenditures totalling approximately $180,000, including additional security at the PCTC, benches and shelters for bus stops, curb painting and an increase in the grant to the Parksville and District Chamber of Commerce to run the city’s Canada Day parade and celebration.
The final addition was a $5,000 annual grant-in-aid to the Parksville Heritage Society for operation expenses at Parksville Museum. The grant was added to the provisional budget on a 5-1 vote despite the fact that the museum was indefinitely closed on Nov. 3 and that society representatives who appeared at the meeting could not tell council what the money would be used for.
“This type of request is what we consider a grant-in-aid,” Coun. Teresa Patterson said. “Do you have a specific purpose to put the $5,000 toward?”
“We don’t right now,” society treasurer Margot Banks said. “We have our AGM coming up, and the current board doesn’t want to make definite decisions at this time, because new people will be coming onto the board.”
Banks was elected society president two days later at its annual general meeting at the museum on Nov. 18.
Coun. Sue Powell questioned why the museum needed $5,000 from the city when its financial statement indicated the heritage society currently has more than $614,000 in the bank.
“How would $5,000 help, and why don’t you use your own money?” Powell asked.
Outgoing heritage society president David Haynes said the board had been dipping into its savings fund, the remainder of a nearly decade-old bequest of roughly a million dollars, to repair crumbling infrastructure.
The savings account had also been tapped to cover budget shortfalls that roughly equaled the salary of the museum’s two paid staff, he said. Those employees were laid off concurrent with the museum’s closure Nov. 3.
“Our last four years, I would characterize as maintenance years,” Haynes told council, citing needed repairs to the McMillan building, the old schoolhouse and sidewalk construction as among the more costly items.
The $5,000-request had initially been added to the provisional financial plan during council’s first budget deliberation, on Oct. 30. But Powell — who along with Patterson had been absent for that session — requested during council’s Nov. 6 regular meeting that the museum request and other added items be brought back for reconsideration due to a breach of council policy.
A $7,500 increase to the Canada Day grant and a $3,000 annual grant-in-aid to Tidal Treasures were both approved by council following reconsideration on Nov. 6, but the museum request was deferred so heritage society representatives could return with additional information at last week’s budget deliberation.
Powell was the lone vote against the museum budget request. Lefebvre and councillors Patterson, Kim Burden, Mary Beil and Leanne Salter voted for the motion. Coun. Kirk Oates was vacationing and was not in attendance.
The provisional budget will now go to city staff, who are directed to prepare the appropriate bylaw for council’s consideration beginning early next year. The provisional budget may be viewed on the city’s website at www.parksville.ca.