Port Alberni city councillors voted to make a series of financial commitments to the five-year financial plan even though the budget process isn’t finished yet.
The first commitment was to restore Alberni Valley Chamber of Commerce funding to $84,000, which is up from $69,000 last year. Council voted in favour of a second motion that will see the $15,000 increase underwritten with a 0.5 per cent increase to the business class tax rate.
“We’re trying to promote the centennial and the mill so it doesn’t make sense to cut back on their rate,” Coun. Robert Cole said.
The chamber needs to grow out its membership first, Coun. Wendy Lee Kerr said. “I’d encourage them to be more self-sufficient instead of being reliant on the city.”
A second commitment involves adding $15,000 to the planning department budget to facilitate updating city bylaws. The increase would cover clerical support, a legal review of the updates and public consultation costs.
Councillors discussed their commitment to being proactive about bylaw enforcement, with only one bylaw enforcement officer.
“If you want to be proactive you need to consider we have only one bylaw enforcement officer,” city manager Ken Watson said. Adopting new bylaws and wanting to be more aggressive will be all for naught without the resources to do so, he added.
The third commitment involves the request for fire department clerical support, which has been reduced from $41,000 to $7,500. The department is still in partnership discussions with the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District that may yet make up the difference.
The last commitment didn’t involve money but rather a reallocation of responsibility. Councillors agreed that Economic Development Manager Pat Deakin will work with McLean Mill, the Industrial Heritage Society and the Alberni Valley Museum to coordinate marketing efforts for the mill.
The move will not involve any additional money, and will be done within the exisiting budget.