Each department has put in a request to increase staff, but the 2013 budget does not include any staff changes.
The City is struggling with some external pressures which will increase the cost of running the local government. Those costs include a 3.91 per cent rate increase from B.C. Hydro, a 8.6 per cent in contract costs from the RCMP (approximately $500,000) and an increase in insurance rates of 14.5 per cent.
The 2013 operating budget covers the general costs associated with running the municipality and doesn’t include capital projects like road improvements. The proposed budget is $56,347,376 with a shortfall of $1,616,013.
So how does the City close the budget gap? According to City Manager Diane Hunter, staff have looked at ways to cut back on expenses, but can’t find any significant savings or new revenue options. If Council increased property taxes to cover the deficit, the increase would need to be 8 per cent.
Hunter did mention that the Pomeroy Sports Centre has put a significant strain the budget since it opened. In the 2012 it cost $2.8 million to operate the facility. Although the facility is well used, the cost of bringing on a facility of its size has meant new costs that tax payers must now cover.
Council put forward a number of options, but most surrounded the idea of a tax increase coupled with taking funds from the Provincial Fair Share program. Staff will now work with the numbers and come back to council with ideas on how to close the budget gap.
For the 2012 operating budget, Council increased the tax rate by 3 per cent and transferred 2.5 per cent from the Fair Share program to cover the deficit.