Williams Lake Council will be directing staff to prepare the City’s 5-Year Financial Plan bylaw with internal borrowing from the water fund for payment of the Toop Road/Hwy 97 reconstruction project.

That comes following this week’s regular council meeting.

“When we first got elected four years ago there was about fifteen million dollars in debt,” said chair of the finance committee councilor, Scott Nelson.

“Today we’re down to about eleven million dollars in debt. We’re trying to reduce our debt as a community and we don’t want to do long term borrowing on this particular project-it’s about two point two million dollars; we can pay it off in four years in the term so we’re just going to do it internally and pay it off in cash.”

Council also agreed to direct staff to prepare the 5-year financial plan based on the use of available reserves including the Community Forest revenues, and capital project reduction and deferrals in the amount of $158,800

Nelson said the City’s 2019 budget will be adopted by Council along with their five estimated budget before May 15, 2019.

A one percent tax increase across the board that Nelson said will go directly into resurfacing projects and roadwork is still being considered.

The City’s Chief Financial Officer, Vitali Kozubenko confirmed at Tuesday’s meeting that the City will have their water and sewer fund paid off by 2020.

Nelson said without any long term borrowing the City will see its debt reduced to about $9.5 million dollars by the end of 2019 and to $6.5 million dollars at the end of Council’s term.

“The community is in great shape,” he said.

Previous Tax Increases of Zero Percent The Right Thing: Nelson and Mayor Walt Cobb

“The community is growing,” Nelson told MyCaribooNow.

“Williams Lake is a very bright spot now in British Columbia. We had some fantastic assessment increases this year.”

Nelson said close to $427,000 in new revenue was generated and there was $1.2 million dollars from Community Forest revenues.

“We still don’t have our key projects, our large capital projects in our community on the assessment roll yet so I think we’re going to see additional revenues next year,” he said.

Mayor Walt Cobb said by authorizing internal borrowing for the payment of Toop Road/Hwy 97 reconstruction project they will pay $500,000 every year for a period of four years.

“We’re trying to put together a five plan or a ten-year plan, and if you look for the next two years, 2020 and 2021, are very, very tight with income and some capital work that might be required to do,” Cobb said in an interview last week.

“We don’t want to make it worse for next year so we’re trying to balance it so that we’re taking some of the pain a little bit every year.”

Cobb said because things were a ‘bit of a mess’ in previous years, Council did not feel comfortable asking for any kind of a tax increase until the general public understood and knew they had their house in order.

“And we had to get our own house in order before we could ask for more money and it’s coming to fruition now,” he said.

“It’s going to be a tight two years, but after that, if you look at the budget over the five, ten years, we’re in very, very good shape financially.”