A number of new capital projects and long term plans will require some big decisions from Parksville council through their budget season, beginning with the first public meeting at 6 p.m., Nov. 8 at city hall.
Mayor Chris Burger said that last year’s budget was a transition year for the new council who have now been on the job for a year and are taking more ownership of the next budget.
The main changes in this year’s budget revolve around the addition of a number of capital projects due to the first update to their 20 Year Capital Plan in about eight years, said director of finance Lucky Butterworth.
Burger said council is always struggling to balance current priorities with long term capital projects and he frequently highlights a new, provincially required, river water intake and treatment facility. Early estimates put it around $50 million in total by 2050 in partnership with the regional district and hopefully senior levels of government.
“Staff are also working within a number of guidelines council has already set,” Burger said, including a freeze they imposed on hiring and on 40 per cent of the city’s budget areas.
Though he pointed out everything is always up for discussion and at council’s discretion, council appears to want to “stick to its guns,” on some of those tough decisions, he said.
Butterworth said the preliminary budget they are presenting is still based on last year’s five year financial plan with a residential property tax increase of three percent and a commercial and light industrial property tax increase of four percent, but council will have to make some big decisions to balance it.
That will require further tax increases, deferring projects, borrowing money, or some combination of those, he said.
While they are reviewing things like the city’s permissive taxation, grants in aid and development cost charges, Butterworth pointed out they are separate from the immediate budget work.
The city’s 2011-2015 financial plan is available on the website at www.parksville.ca, under the Financial Reports tab on the right.
Residents are invited to hear details, ask questions and provide feedback on the preliminary budget Thursday, Nov. 8 at 6 p.m. in the Parksville Civic and Technology Centre Forum, 100 Jensen Avenue East. Anyone unable to attend can e-mail questions and/or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additional meetings will be scheduled in the near future and posted to the website as needed.