Council adopts five-year plan

As council moved closer to finalizing its 2011 tax rate bylaw and adopting its five-year financial plan, Coun. Surinderpal Rathor continued to stonewall.

As council moved closer to finalizing its 2011 tax rate bylaw and adopting its five-year financial plan, Coun. Surinderpal Rathor continued to stonewall.

Council adopted the five-year financial plan at Tuesday’s meeting as well as gave the first three readings of its 2011 tax rate bylaw without the support of Rathor.

Rathor declined to support the budget on the grounds that the City received its first-quarter gaming grant from the province in the amount of $392,000. After the meeting, Rathor said some of that money not already earmarked for projects should be put towards the budget.

Rather further suggested if the City chose to do so it would remain fiscally sound considering revenue from gaming will continue to flow over the three remaining quarters in 2011.

However, City chief administrative officer Brian Carruthers pointed out that in the 2011 budget the City has allocated $500,000 for projects to come from gaming.

“We budget based on historical amounts,” Carruthers said. “Over the last number of years it’s been about $500,000 (annually) give or take. So that’s how much we put in our budget, that we anticipate $500,000 in revenue from Signal Point gaming and that forms part of our budget.”

Due to the fluctuating nature of the funds, the City has traditionally used gaming money for projects rather than to cover operating costs.

“The reason you do that is you never want operations relying on unsecure funding,” Carruthers said.

He pointed out that the City normally receives $125,000 per quarter so the amount was “a bit of a surprise.”

Also problematic, Rathor’s request was made at the eleventh hour, said Carruthers, noting that to accommodate any change the five-year plan would have to be rescinded, rewritten, reintroduced and adopted all before the May 15 deadline set out by the Community Charter.

On April 5, Rathor again voted not to support the first three readings of the 2011 financial plan bylaw, saying that the City had at least a $200,000 surplus it could apply to the 2011 budget.  City staff agreed there was money available in general surplus but that council had decided to hold that money to cover “unplanned eventualities.”

The City’s 2011 budget sets out a three-per cent increase in taxation revenue; no changes in water and sewer rates; no increase to council compensation; and a general surplus for 2011 of $421,000. The five-year financial plan includes a four-per cent increase in taxation revenue for 2010-2015; an increase to the paving reserve contributions ($1.6 million by 2015); sets projected annual growth at $200,000; and estimates inflation to be two per cent. The five-year plan is not binding.