Ah, December. Snow, skating, family, friends and wrapping up the current calendar year in preparation for the next one. In the world of municipal politics, this time of the year means one thing: Budget.
At the end of November, council met as Committee of the Whole to discuss this year’s budget. We heard from the city treasurer, our CAO, and many staff and department heads – along with the heads of external agencies – about ehat the numbers going into the new year looked like. They looked good. When this council first took office, they had agreed to not increase taxes more than 3.5% per year – justified as a 2.0 % for inflation, 0.5% for service changes and 1% on top as infastructure spending. This seemed like a good plan, then, and was swiftly approved last year. This year, however, council had other plans. In May, also as committee of the whole, they asked staff to target the much more agressive 2.5% – which they did. Here’s how this year’s budget breaks down:
$7,205,071.00 to the department of sustainability and growth. This includes the cost for the building and licensing division, environment and sustainable initiatives, cultural services and planning & development.
$30,087,456.00 for community services, including the actual cummunity and family services department, housing, recreation and leisure and long term care.
$29,420,289.00 for public works, engineering and solid waste.
$35,066,163.00 for Transportation, real estate and construction and the fire and rescue departments.
$13,329,795.00 for corporate administarion. This includes just shy of 1.4 million for the mayor, council and CAO, plus the budgets for the city solicitor’s office, the city clerk, corporate affairs, financial services, human resources and information technology.
$24,616,813.00 as a line item for financial services… and the 1% capital levy
$1,786,093.00 in tax adjustments and allowances.
And $62,212,731.00 for agencies and boards, including the police services board, KEDCO, the Downtown BIA and the library.
So – how are we doing? If my math is right, that brings us to a spend of $203,724,411.00. Now, the city gets $14,645,632 for payments in lieu of taxes… Leaving a net of $187,078,779.00 to find… Or 2.5%
So, how’d they keep us at 2.5% instead of the 3.5? Well, for the most part, it was a little bit of number-re-working and fortunate timing. Some of the cost savings from LED lighting and more optimized heating and cooling went into this year’s budget, for example. The second phase of the new transit plan in 2015 gets bumped by four months, a reduction in programs offered while Artillery Park is under renovations and changes to the health and dental plans this year contributed, too.
Staff did, though, warn that most of the findings this year spell out not being able to do the same for the next few. In 2014, for example, they’re currently seeing a 3.2% increase and another 3.1% in 2015.
Committee of the Whole, in the end, approved the budget as staff prepared it, and it will go to council on December 18th for the final vote.
Speaking of the December 18th meeting – we’ll be off-site again, at RMC, and while I’ll be tweeting it live, the recap will take a well deserved break during the holidays. Thanks for a fantastic year, hall monitors, and see you after the January 8th meeting. Happy holidays!
Thanks to reneilet for today’s original photo.