The meeting to debate this year’s city budgets didn’t break up until after midnight. And in the end the much dreaded six per cent plus one per cent millrate increase looked more like a 4.9 per cent increase plus one per cent.
Council went rogue on their own budget, basically, shaving off around $900,000 in expenses and drawing off $1 million from last year’s surplus — even though that surplus has yet to be confirmed by an auditor.
Where’d they find all these savings in the middle of the night on Feb. 24 that somehow eluded city hall’s brightest minds over the last several months of budget deliberations?
Well, Councillor Young requested that we postpone the bylaw review process that rounds off the new Official Community Plan that council passed last year. See, according to city manager, Glen Davies, it was likely that city administration wouldn’t have even gotten to that job this year anyway, so it wouldn’t really hurt anyth— Wait, a second. What the hell? Admin were budgeting for a project they probably weren’t going to get around to anyway? And they knew that?
Why was that even in the budget then?
That was the question a frustrated councillor O’Donnell asked while speaking about how he’d be voting against Young’s motion because he thinks it unwise to keep postponing work. His question went mainly unanswered — as in, there was an answer but it was sufficiently vague I don’t remember a word of it… I look at tapes and shit in the morning. Did I mention it’s after 1am?
That saved city hall about $400,000.
Then along comes Councillor Hawkins, surprising everybody by making a motion to roll back the increase in spending on consultants and outside workers. In the budget that line item was going to increase 34 per cent. But city staff are going to have to get by this year with the same amount of cash they had last year.
Christ, who are they going to get to mock up their stadiums and waste water treatment plants? Doesn’t Hawkins know how council’s pet projects are massive employers of outside consultants?
City mgr Glen Davies said that admin would just have to find ways to get by with less but that this move could impact the city’s ability to get work done.
But no matter. Motion passed. City saved $500,000.
On top of this, Councillor Bryce made the motion to set aside $1million from this year’s expected $2million surplus and use it as a one-time revenue source for this year.
All told, that’s $1.9 million saved and that shaved the non-road-maintenance side of the mill rate hike down from 6% to 4.885%.
Other stuff happened. We’ll report on it later. I’m going to bed. Good night.