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There’s a few concrete solutions made to the city’s operating budget.

The budget was presented to city council at the first review on Monday afternoon. Council members discussed the 2008 estimated surplus of around $2 million.

They voted to adopt a surplus policy that gives a percentage of funds from surplus into reserves, while keeping the minimum of three months operating requirements in surplus. Councilor Ackerman says it’s always good to save for an unexpected emergency. [asset|aid=1038|format=mp3player|formatter=asset_bonus|title=183465a34d9d2e33232ee1dc6f1fe4a2-Ackerman Budget 1_1_Pub.mp3]

The 2009 budget overview expects a budget shortfall of just over $1.3 million. Council has the options like increasing taxes for revenue, and decrease labour costs to cut spending. Council did not make a decision on the anticipated shortfall.

Council did, however, agree to receive a report on credit card payments. According to the budget overview, more than $115,000 is spent on credit card fees alone.  City Manager Dianne Hunter says many people pay their taxes with a credit card. She says it’s a common trend because residents earn reward points on the cards. Larry Evans says if that’s the case, he says the service doesn’t benefit the entire community. [asset|aid=1039|format=mp3player|formatter=asset_bonus|title=183465a34d9d2e33232ee1dc6f1fe4a2-Evans budget 1_1_Pub.mp3]

Council also agreed to extend the residential solid waste contract with the current contractor. In 2008, it cost almost $587,000 to contract out the work. In 2009, the cost will increase to almost $635,000. The extended contract gives council the opportunity to explore all options in regards to residential solid waste collection.

Councilor’s voted to look into the city’s public transit system. There is a $250,000 increase from last year, and Mayor Lantz says the demand doesn’t match the price tag. [asset|aid=1040|format=mp3player|formatter=asset_bonus|title=183465a34d9d2e33232ee1dc6f1fe4a2-Lantz budget 1_1_Pub.mp3]

The councilor’s agreed the transit system is necessary, but it needs to be cost-efficient. Council will be meeting throughout the month to discuss the budget. Dr. Stanley Hamilton will be presenting his recommendations on the tax ratio review on March 9th. The city will also host its first public meeting on the budget Wednesday March 11th at the Lido Theatre.

To view the first review of the 2009 operating budget, click here

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