New Williams Lake budget plans for the future

On Tuesday, Council passed the 2014 budget and five-year financial plan, and gave three readings to the tax rate bylaw.

On Tuesday, Council passed the 2014 budget and five-year financial plan, and gave three readings to the tax rate bylaw.

The 2014 budget totals $31.99 million, with operating costs totaling $19.69 million, and a $12.3 million capital budget.

As we have in the past few years, we are planning for the future.

We need to address our pavement management each year, so that roads do not deteriorate to the point where reconstruction is needed, with a very big price tag.

We know that we need to be fiscally responsible while providing services and maintaining our infrastructure, and to think long-term, to avoid the need to borrow funds and incur debt.

It was by doing this long-term strategic planning in past years that we were able to accomplish the South Lakeside Drive project last summer without borrowing money. It is the fiscally responsible way to operate.

I’m proud that there is no long-term or short-term borrowing in the budget for the third year in a row, and water and sewer utility rates will not change.

We have done the due diligence of finding efficiencies in the operating budget, and this year, we have cut $388,000 in operating costs.

Finding efficiencies is an ongoing part of our budget cycle and will definitely be a focus for the upcoming year.

The financial plan proposes a three per cent annual tax increase, with two per cent going annually toward pavement management  projects, and 1 per cent toward the annual rate of inflation of operating costs.

The two per cent tax increase set aside in each year of the financial plan will allow us to address infrastructure without depleting our reserves.

We also propose to continue to increase the balances in our reserve accounts to support future capital projects.

A huge thank you to all of the organizers, sponsors, performers, and volunteers who helped make the City’s 85th birthday celebration a success last Saturday. Despite the incredible four inches of snow, there was a full day of fun for everyone. It was great to have our community, regional mayors, our MLAs, former mayors, and some Williams Lake pioneers come to celebrate with us. Here’s to another 85 years of opportunity!

I attended a Community Policing volunteer recognition event where more than 100 residents were honoured. A big thank you to all those who serve our community and make it a safer place to live!

It is that time of year when we are reminded to honour our mothers. I have been blessed with an amazing mom –whom I respect and love, and who has been encouraging and supportive. She is someone I worked with for many years, whom I have laughed and cried with. Thanks for everything, Mom!

Kerry Cook is the Mayor of Williams Lake.


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