Budget talks complete
The budget process is completed this year for the City of Prince George, with few surprises except an increase in the budget for the Prince George Library, and a promise to find a way to undertake some strategic planning for future infrastructure funding.
Snow removal and roads were kept at the 2011 levels, however Coun. Cameron Stolz questioned the road budget of $3 and a half million, asking what the city should be spending just to keep up with the rate of deterioration.
He was told the number was double that amount, at $7 million.
“I’m looking for us to be able to work with administration and finance and audit to create a three- to five-year sustainability plan around roads,” Coun. Lyn Hall said. “I think it’s important we establish that kind of a planning cycle.”
The operations budget, which passed at $16 million, includes snow removal, road rehabilitation and other operations.
The emergency services and civic facilities budget passed at $38.2 million and includes the $21.5 million policing budget, which increased by 6.5 per cent.
“If this was any other department people would be in the streets rioting,” Coun. Cameron Stolz said, adding council has very little control over that portion of the budget.
Representatives from the library had the opportunity to make a presentation at the meetings, and asked for just over $50,000 in additional funding, above the 2011 level they were asked to keep the budget at.
The library said the funding is the amount necessary to maintain services.
However, last Thursday, the Regional District of Fraser Fort George agreed rural users had been underfunding the library over the years and passed a motion to support the library with $50,000.
This money flows through the city then goes to the library.
There was confusion among some councillors regarding the total amount the city would give, then, since it seemed as though the $50,000 was extra funding above what the city had budgeted.
But city manager, Derek Bates, said the budget already assumed the regional district would add the $50,000.
However, many councillors said they felt the perception at the regional district may have been the $50,000 would cover the extra amount asked for by the library.
Coun. Dave Wilbur made a motion the city support the budget, adding $50,000 from the regional district, rather than including it.
Council voted in favour of the motion.
The final number for the tax levy was 3.23, the total increase needed to get the money required to balance the budget, however Green pointed out this isn’t the final number. Rather it will remain for a future council meeting to decide how it is broken down between property classes, and what the levy will be whether you are residential, business, light industrial etc.