Though there is still plenty of time left in 2020, that hasn’t stopped the City of Williams Lake from looking forward to there 2021 budget.
At Tuesday nights Committee of Whole Council Meeting, the council was presented with a report to discuss the development timeline and seek the council’s direction for the preparation of the budget and financial plan.
This direction may include expected service levels, staff levels, tax rate expectations, utility fee expectations, and funding options, including the reserves and debt/borrowing.
Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb said that the discussion was to outline the plans for the budget that won’t be presented until May of next year.
“The direction that was given, more for staff, was that we would like to continue down the road of a zero per cent increase in tax rates and that we are not looking at any increase in staff, we are not looking at any decrease in services as well,” he said. “We are trying to give a level playing field, stay where we are, do what we can with the money we have. We’ve continued to pay down our debt.”
Cobb said that an issue they will confront would be increasing the City’s revenue.
“The issue is always going to be that if we continue to increase spending without knowing where the revenue is coming from, we are going to have to increase taxes,” he said. “Our goal is only to increase revenue by increasing assessment. That means new industry, new business, and not putting an extra burden on you as an individual who’s paying. Times are tough; we don’t want to put more burden on them buy, not looking after our own funding and making sure we are spending where it’s necessary.”
He noted that the community forest is a great example of how the City generates more revenue than taxpayers as a source of income.
“The grant money from the government is going to become less and less as time goes on because they are running out of money. We are going to have to find other ways of generating revenue without strict taxation. We have to look at options, there are opportunities out there, but we also have to be cognizant of the fact that if we get into business of sort, we don’t want to lose money because that will put a further burden on the taxpayers.”
Cobb added that heading into next year, they will have some surpluses that they didn’t anticipate, as COVID-19 stopped some work from getting down this year.