City staff unveiled Powell River’s five-year draft financial plan at the the first of two open houses Wednesday, November 25.
The open house consisted of over 10 easels displaying poster-sized prints of budget line items, pie charts and line graphs.
Mayor and council, as well as the city’s chief financial and administrative officers, were on hand to answer questions and explain the financial plan to taxpayers.
“The city is way ahead of the curve compared to previous years,” mayor Dave Formosa stated in a media release.
While there was necessity to have the operation plan complete before city chief financial officer Shehzad Somji wrapped up his job in Powell River at the end of December, having the budget complete has been a long-held objective.
Formosa, who was on hand at the open house to speak with only a handful of taxpayers interested in the plan, said he was pleased with the plan being ready to go so far in advance.
City council has an annual May 15 deadline to complete the budgetary process and Mac Fraser, city chief administrative officer, explained that in years past the process would be left until near the deadline for completion.
Councillor Russell Brewer, also in attendance at the open house, said that having a financial plan that runs during a calendar year makes it easier for the city’s department managers to access the funds they need to plan spring projects.
“I am very pleased that council is in a position to approve our financial plan prior to the start of the next fiscal period that begins January 1,” said Brewer. “We were also able to provide increased opportunities for public consultation with strong support from very capable management and staff.”
Brewer added it also gives the public more opportunity to provide ideas and chances for council to respond.
According to the mayor, this budget process has been more streamlined and the plan provides more relevant detail and data.
“In the past council got hung up on smaller line items. At the council level it really needs to be a higher-level strategic view,” stated Formosa.
Formosa noted despite the fact the city is facing several millions of dollars of infrastructure spending over the next decade with the replacement of the Haslam Lake water main, development of a city-wide liquid waste management facility and a fire hall to replace the Courtenay Street station, the city is at the forefront of new revenue streams, including money from FortisBC for the passage of its natural gas pipeline through the city and leasing the city’s barge and ramp facilities.
Despite the city having its operational budget complete, staff will still have to wait until May to complete the tax-rate bylaw and wait for other necessary information from Powell River Regional District.
The draft five-year plan is available online at powellriver.ca. Questions about the plan can be sent via email to email@example.com, calling 604.485.8601 or attending the second public meeting, scheduled from 5 to 7 pm on Wednesday, December 2 at Cranberry Seniors’ Centre.