City council is embarking on a plan to develop a ‘more realistic’ budgets, while proposing a zero per cent tax increase in 2020. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

Council moves to develop more ‘realistic’ budgets

Part of a new budget and timeline plan proposes a zero per cent tax increase in 2020

As they eye the future Williams Lake city council is making some changes to develop more ‘realistic’ budgets.

At Tuesday’s regular council meeting council unanimously endorsed a 2020 budget and financial timeline and direction plan.

The new plan supports for 2020 a zero per cent tax increase and a zero per cent water and sewer rate increase and a reduction in capital spending to within a 20 per cent target of the annual operating and capital budget.

“We’ve taken the position that we want to continue and support and prioritize investment and diversification in our community ensuring that what we can do is utilize the growth that we’ve seen in the last five years as the catapult into the next five years,” said Coun. Scott Nelson, adding there has been $145 million in new growth in the last five years.

The plan also aims to expand the commercial and industrial tax base to include the renewable green energy sector, to establish a general infrastructure and equipment fund and review the solid waste management and recycling program and costs.

Additionally, the City will review its winter road maintenance policy prior to the 2019/2020 season.

Nelson said the City spends a significant amount of money salting roads and will look at reducing the amount of salt it is using.

“The idea behind reviewing winter road maintenance is as a savings opportunity but it will not be tied to reducing service,” he added.

Coun. Jason Ryll said as chair of the public works committee he agreed with the direction of the plan, but worried about agreeing to something that council has not had time to discuss further.

“We have not even reviewed our capital budget for 2020 so for us to commit at this point to keep within 20 per cent is a little presumptuous,” Ryll said. “I don’t want us to over commit something and then have to shave our teeth.”

Nelson said they are trying to bring in a budget that is realistic.

“We can go with steak and lobster or we can go for pork and beans,” Nelson added.

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