A number of recommendations pursuant to Committee of Whole Council reports on the 2019 Budget was approved at Tuesday’s regular Council meeting in Williams Lake.
Mayor Walt Cobb said he missed the last budget meeting and was a little concerned when he saw what was happening and the fact they were short about two million dollars of revenues before Council received the report by the City’s Chief Financial Officer regarding the 2019-2028 Capital Budget.
“So the resolutions and motions have been put in place to try and address that,” he said thanking staff for the work they have done so far.
Recommendations adopted by Council included adopting a policy that any revenues from the Williams Lake Regional Airport remain in a separate account for airport use, and reducing the capital budget by one million dollars with items not attached to grants.
“This was something we discussed earlier when we upped the airport fees. The decision was made that the airport was a pre-standing business only from the water and sewer accounts so any revenue generated at the airport will stay within the airport for upgrades and future developments,” Cobb said.
“It’s a good move.”
Other recommendations supported by Council included for staff to negotiate an amendment with the province that payments for the Toop Road intersection Road improvements be made over two years, and that staff investigate a more equitable arrangement with the province when it comes to maintaining the City’s portions of Dog Creek Road and Fox Mountain Road.
Cobb called the slide area of Dog Creek Road something that has been a problem for a long time.
“For whatever reason years ago it was turned over to the City, and we’re in the process now if we can’t get it turned back to highways so they maintain it we’re looking at cost sharing in the repairs because it’s getting to a point if it slides much further the entire road is either going to be covered up or washed out so we need to find a way to solve the problem and the province needs to come to the table.”
Councillor Scott Nelson said it would cost approximately one and a half million to two million dollars to address repairs to Dog Creek Road and the slide area.
“It’s a significant cost and it services two residential homes within the City and 5,000 people outside the City,” Nelson said.
“Fox Mountain we’ve just gone up and repaved so we’d like to turn that over and I think there’s a real opportunity for the province to come in and assist us.”
Council also agreed to keep the mill rate remain unchanged and to approve a 1% tax increase with any generated funds allocated for paving projects.
“This figure will be determined at a later date when we finalize the budget,” Cobb said.
Reducing City’s Debt and Paying for Projects in Cash: Nelson
Councillor Scott Nelson said the City’s overall debt four years ago was 16 million dollars.
“Today we’re down to approximately 11.2 million dollars and at the end of 2019 we’re going to be sitting at about 9.3 million dollars,” he said.
“At the end of our term, it only gets good, better, and fantastic. The better news is that we’ll be down to about 6.5 million dollars that’s going to be owing and within that term, we will have paid off all of the water and sewer loans so at the end of term we’ll be in an extraordinarily great position.”
Nelson went on to say Council has taken a number of preemptive steps to ensure things like paving are a top priority in the community.
“When we talk about looking at tax increases, we’ve had an assessment increase meaning the value of your house has gone up,” he said.
“Inside that tax portfolio, we’ve estimated to be about $475,000 of new taxation without any increases in taxation which means our economy is growing and that doesn’t include a lot of big-ticket items that are in the ground. For our community in a global picture, within two to three year we’ll be tipping at just about $1 million dollars of newly generated taxation without having to go for tax increases in a community that’s growing and paying down our debt.”
Councillor Ivan Bonnell was absent from Tuesday’s regular meeting.