Citizens for a Livable Cranbrook Society provides grassroots leadership and an inclusive process, with a voice for all community members, to ensure that our community grows and develops in a way that incorporates an environmental ethic, offers a range of housing and transportation choices, encourages a vibrant and cultural life and supports sustainable, meaningful employment and business opportunities.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Notes from the City Budget Meeting of January 14th

The first public budget meeting for 2015 - 2019 plan was held Wednesday January 14th and lasted over three hours.  This first session was for Council to review, clarify and carry forward projects and work already started in 2014.  For most of these projects, the work is partly complete, purchase orders issued and all that remains is for work to be completed and bills paid.  One example is the Clocktower Square rebuild which could not be completed in the fall due to a discovery of deep infrastructure requiring replacement.  Trees have been ordered and final landscaping will be completed in the spring.

Charlotte Osborne, Director of Finance articulated what the long list of Carry Forward projects consisted of and Council could ask for clarification or more information.  Department heads were also present to clarify if necessary.  Council members had received the information package prior to the public meeting.

Councillor Graham questioned the need to replace street light bulbs with more energy efficient bulbs because of the short term cost.  It was pointed out by CAO Staudt that this is a partnership project with BC Hydro (including grants)and that there will be long term savings.  Councillor Cardozo questioned the Asia twinning project and indicated she would rather see the funds spent locally.  CAO Staudt pointed out that this was a provincially funded and directed project.  Councillor Graham questioned the need for a contracted Parks and Recreation Master Plan cost but it was pointed out that the Plan is complete.  Mayor Pratt questioned the need to move forward with the remaining plan for the Slaterville intersection upgrade.  Mayor Pratt also stated, “We do not want to plant trees if they have not been purchased.”

A resolution was requested to accept these Carry Forward projects with a proviso to find more information for a few of the projects mentioned above.  However, Mayor Pratt indicated he wanted to review a much larger number of projects. 

Recognising that Council was not ready to move forward it was agreed to move the resolution to the Feb 4th.  CAO Staudt explained that there will always be a link to the previous Council with projects that have been approved, taxed for and grants received.  He also stated that most of these projects are committed to.
Councillor Graham stated, “Bottom line, if there is something Council doesn’t want to fund we don’t fund it.”

After the Carry Forward Project part of the meeting two options were put forward for the 2015 Roads Program.  Council voted to move forward with the’ mill and fill of 3 and 1/2 kilometers of road rather than complete the first phase of deep infrastructure replacement on 2nd St S.  This road has been shown to have deep infrastructure problems, which could fail and the road needs a complete rebuild.  The 2nd St. South project was the topic of an open house and petition in 2014.  Mill and fill refers to the process where the top surface of the road is broken up and reused for resurfacing.

During the meeting Councillor Popoff questioned the existing 1% road tax and suggested removing it in order to lower taxes. He asked if the money could be found elsewhere in the budget.  Director of Finance Charlotte Osborne explained that that amount of money could not be found elsewhere as roads are not eligible for grants and it must come out of taxes.  The tax was brought in under the Council of Mayor Manjak and has been used several years now.  The initial amount of just over $200,000.00 has now compounded to a significant budget for roads and accrues to millions in the next few years.  Other Councillors agreed they were in favour of the 1% road tax.

Also discussed was the application to the Build Canada Fund for pump and electrical system component replacement at the City Farm, Spray Irrigation System. A loan application bylaw has already been approved for this project but at the last Council meeting, it was suggested by Councillor Blissett, that an application to the Build Canada Fund might be a good option.  Either one of these options will ensure there will be financing for the necessary project.   It had been indicated the pump replacement was urgent for the system to function this season.  It is now felt by engineering that the system could limp through one more year, which will allow the design phase of the project to be completed in good time.

The meeting was recessed until the next Budget Meeting.

Next proposed Budget Meeting dates:
February 4th  Water, Sewer, Solid Waste and Airport Funds will be discussed
February 17th General Fund, Capital, Grants to organisations, Borrowing and Tax Rates.
March 4th
April 8th

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