Budget season is well underway at City of Powell River.
City council heard more details about the city’s 2018 operating budget at its finance committee meeting on November 23.
City chief financial officer Kathleen Day told the committee that property taxes in 2018 will be limited to a two per cent increase. Next year’s budget does not include any service level or major cost increases, except for those already approved by council.
“The 2018 budget process is proceeding in a positive manner,” said Day after the meeting. “During the 2017 budget process, we worked hard to not only balance the 2017 budget but to realistically forecast the 2018 budget.”
According to current city financial forecasting, the city will end 2017 with an approximate surplus of $250,000.
Councillor and finance committee chair Russell Brewer said he is happy with how the process has gone so far.
“For us to just be off by $250,000, that's pretty tight to our projected budget,” said Brewer. “I'm pretty pleased with that, especially given all the fluctuations that have gone on all over the place.”
The November 23 meeting was the first time for council to see the proposed 2018 operations budget. Brewer said because the budget had only been released that day, councillors were not able to take a close read of it, so the public can expect council to have more questions in the coming meetings.
Day reported that the initial 2018 budget is looking as though it might include an approximate $100,000 shortfall. She is recommending council uses part if its $250,000 surplus to bridge the potential financial gap.
The 2018 budget includes a $300,000 increase for Catalyst Paper Corporation, a $268,000 increase from expected new construction in the city and another $268,000 from the two per cent property tax increase.
Brewer said he is comfortable with the tax increase because freezing rates only leads to larger increases in the future. He said his preference is to continue to try to limit increases benchmarked to the consumer price index, which was two per cent in October.
The 2018 budget for the city’s capital projects and water and sewer operations will be presented at the next finance committee meeting.
Budget documentation is available at powellriver.ca for the public to review.
At each budget meeting a time is set aside for the public's questions and comments. The public can also participate by completing the city’s Citizen Budget survey online at powellriver.citizenbudget.com.