Williams Lake city council discusses 2017 budget

If taxes go up in Williams Lake it would only be for road repairs.

“As a council we have made a decision that if there is going to be an increase we would put that into roads to mill, fill and pave,” Coun. Scott Nelson, chair of the finance committee, told the Tribune Monday.

“Roads have become the top priority for council.” So far, around $950,000 has been allotted for roads in the 2017 budget with the possibility of adding another $400,000 to $500,000, Nelson said.

Going into 2018 council would like to double that amount, he added. During the first two budget meetings council has pulled about $1.6 million out of the budget and asked staff to go back and look at the numbers, Nelson said.

“We are sitting close to a zero tax increase at this time.” The city hired a new chief financial officer, Vitali Kozubenko, who started in March. Nelson described Kozubenko as “very bright and articulate.”

“He understands the pressures on the community and the pressures on what’s in front of us as we look at the budget over one, three and five-years. He’s absolutely fantastic.”

Wanting to maintain the integrity of the water and sewer system, Nelson said council is reviewing all the cost bylaws and has asked staff to be aware of any grant opportunities.

“For example, can we use grey water that’s being put into drainage and pipe it back up to the industrial area?” Nelson said.

“We want to ensure our infrastructure is strong and sound. Eight or nine years down the road we know we are going to need a water treatment centre so we want to build into that now to make sure we don’t have a $15 million bill suddenly sitting in front of us.”

Nelson confirmed there will be no staffing cuts, noting council did its reorganization when first elected two years ago. Budget meetings begin at 5 p.m. and are open to the public to ask questions.

By May 15 council has to submit an approved 2017 budget and five-year capital budget to the provincial government.

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