There are several serious issues to address during the development of the five-year financial plan [“City of Powell River finance committee receives first draft of financial plan,” April 1]. Of concern is that only one-year, 2019, of the five-year plan was presented.
Both staff and council have legitimate reasons for lack of budget progress, not the least are new CAO and CFO, who assumed their positions recently and council will not be at full membership until April.
The March 27 debate centred around the amount of tax increase, three per cent or five per cent. The compounding factor, however, is the escalating costs starting in the subsequent years of the five-year plan (not presented) due to debt servicing costs associated with the $27 million loan for the liquid waste plant, currently estimated to be $1.4 million per year for 30 years and equates to a residential property tax increase of 11 per cent. How can council and staff consider additional spending beyond maintaining 2018 costs at this time?
In the CFO’s closing comments in the Peak article he references to new software to effectively manage the budgeting process over the next 10 years. Council and staff should take a year to better define LWTP costs, and time to evaluate potential cost savings before putting more money in non-essential services. It is much easier to delay new additional spending than to reduce costs later.
Budget Allocation, Draft 1: Council’s spending will place $1.3 million or 68 per cent of the expense increase in two non-infrastructure departments. Simply put, council is spending a lot, and in the wrong places.
General Government Services, $616,174 equals a 14.5 per cent increase and Environmental Development, $699,201 equals a 59.5 per cent increase.
Service levels: There was no mention of any modifications to services levels.
The chief financial officer’s summary comments in the city’s March 27 report; 2019 – 2023 Financial Plan Draft 1: “The city is not in a strong financial position to continue providing services at the level that has been historically expected.”
The current budget deliberations are in disarray, suggest no new spending in 2019; take a year to get it right.