Williams Lake city council and staff continue budget discussions with the latest focus being what to set the mill rate at.
Council met again about the budget on Tuesday, April 19 and will be reporting on the outcome at the regular meeting Tuesday, April 26.
“This is not going to be an easy budget to deal with considering the new assessments and some huge increases that some people took,” said Mayor Walt Cobb. “I think we need to seriously consider putting some sort of cushion in place.”
He used the recent pavement marking contract as a reason to be cautious because costs are going up. While $120,000 was budgeted thinking that would cover it, the cost came in at $140,000.
Coun. Scott Nelson is the city’s finance chair.
He suggested another $750,000 be cut from the 2022 budget and the mill rate be lowered for residential taxpayers who are facing an increase in property assessments.
“We had anticipated a two per cent increase across the board in taxation which would have brought us about $450,000. There is a 14.5 per cent increase across the board. On the top of my head we went from about $1.3 billion in assessments to $1.6 billion and over $200 million of that is directly related to residential.”
Recently the city has finished paying off the South Lakeside sewer and water project, and is planning for a water treatment facility in the future, Nelson added.
“In amongst the last two years we’ve spent $11 million and 80 per cent of that has been covered by the province in the river valley. In this budget here we are buying a brand new fire truck that was announced two years ago and we are paying $1.2 million cash for it. It will be arriving here in Williams Lake in the next few months.”
A number of community projects include just under $2 million for paving and a number of projects that enhance the waterfront, including a new boat launch and adding onto the RC Cotton Trail from Scout Island.
“You will be able to walk from Scout Island, across the bridge, down the trail, underneath the bridge, cross over to the Stampede Grounds and then up into downtown.”
Cobb said his own assessment went up by 50 per cent.
Before the city starts “messing around with the mill rates regardless of what is happened with assessments,” Cobb said the city needs to make sure there is that cushion.
“We have to look at the future, we can’t just look at this year here.”