Several capital projects have received funding despite the city of Port Alberni projecting a deficit of $7.5 million for 2012. The city is planning to dip into its surplus in order to balance the budget.
Money for a waterfront industrial road was one of several projects approved by Port Alberni city council at a special budget meeting on Monday. Councillors spent the afternoon dissecting the budget line by line.
Among the engineering capital projects discussed at the meeting was the Waterfront Industrial Road. Council agreed to spend $50,000 for engineering design work. The finished product will be used later in an application to the General Strategic Priority Fund for more expansive work.
City staff will also assemble an integrated transportation plan, of which the industrial road is one part.
Council also voted to approve $40,000 for consulting fees Dry Creek Flood Protection project pre-design work. They further asked that the initiative’s $158,000 debt be transferred to next year.
Council earmarked $40,000 in 2013 for Roger Creek Crossing design and planning work.
Coun. Hira Chopra talked about the need for a referendum on the project. “A large portion of citizens in Port Alberni don’t think we listen,” Coun. Jack McLeman said.
No final decision was made about a referendum, but further information about the project could be a fait accompli. “When people see that it costs $15 million to $20 million that could put it to bed once and for all,” Coun. Dan Washington said.
Councillors also approved an $11,000 (10 per cent) increase to the SPCA budget in 2012.
And they voted to have city staff proceed with a grant application to the General Strategic Priorities Fund for water treatment upgrades.
The city expects to bring in $44.6 million in revenue for 2012. Expenditures, however, total $52.1 million, forcing the city to make up that $7.5 million from somewhere. Municipalities in B.C. are not permitted to carry a deficit but must balance their budgets every year.
Council meets again on March 26 to review reports and amendments to the five year financial plan. Budget bylaws have to be adopted before May 15.