At its fifth public budget meeting council began making some budget decisions, but none on taxation.
On March 22, all council members present at the meeting voted unanimously to keep water and sewer user fees at their 2011 rates.
The airport’s operating and capital five-year financial plans were approved. Council also agreed to maintain reserve fund levels for both water and sewer at $400,000 — up from the previous level of $250,000.
“We have to be prepared if something happens. Some of our sewer lines are 30-plus years old,” said coun. Surinderpal Rathor before making a motion to raise the reserve levels.
When council began going through the supplemental budget requests, debate ensued and the fact that Coun. Danica Hughes was away meant that often the votes were right down the middle with no one to break the tie. Items council could not agree on whether to remove or keep and resulted in no decision being made were the traffic light and electrical box wraps at $6,000 and an additional $75,000 for a greenhouse gas planning technician position.
In arguing for the GHG position, coun. Geoff Bourdon implored council to look past the expenditure as an increased level of service, but see the new position as that 10 per cent of spending that gives one access to grants.
In the proposed 2012 budget, the position would be covered by the general fund ($20,000), water/sewer fund ($10,000) and community works fund ($45,000).
Coun. Laurie Walters asked if it could be a one-year position that council could measure results for at the end of the term, while coun. Sue Zacharias suggested the position fits into the guidelines set by the official community plan and the integrated community sustainability plan. “A reasonable amount of the position would focus on energy efficiency and there is a great potential for our city to save money with the position,” said manager of operations Geoff Goodall.
Meanwhile Mayor Kerry Cook said she could not support the position, describing it as an increase in level of service. “It is a new a position at the city. In regards to the last three years we have increased a planning technician in our city. I’m not prepared to support this new position, but would carry on with a summer student position in that department,” Cook said.
Council did keep the budget lines for an upgrade at the works yard for $20,000 and the Business Expansion Attraction Survey Projects for $45,000.
Staff gave some details on work that needs to be done on widening South Lakeside.
They suggested the cost would be $2 million and doing the project in one year would be better than interrupting that area of town for two years.
Cook asked staff to prepare a report on the road project that would include possible funding sources, apart from borrowing funds.
A sixth public meeting is scheduled for March 29 at 7 p.m. when council will be presented an amended five-year-financial plan.
On April 3 the first three readings of the five-year-financial plan bylaw will commence, followed on April 17, with the first three readings of adoption of the five-year-financial plan bylaw.