The City of Port Alberni is proposing a 2.8 per cent residential tax increase for 2015.
With an average home worth $186,001, this means the average Port Alberni homeowner will pay $39.72 more in residential taxes, if the budget were to be passed today.
The first draft of the city’s 2015 financial plan was unveiled on Monday to little discussion from city councillors.
According to a report submitted to council by director of finance Cathy Rothwell, the city’s service levels will remain for 2015 the same as they did in 2014, under the new budget.
General capital expenses for the city are projected to be approximately $5.5 million and would be funded by operations, reserves, grants and borrowing. Approximately $7.3 million is slated to be spent on capital projects across the board, with the remaining $1.8 million falling under sewer and water projects.
This includes just over $750,000 in paving and road construction, around $670,000 in storm drain replacements and upgrades, just over $1 million in water main renewals and upgrades, $650,000 in sewer projects, $173,000 to improve the Gertrude Street bridge, approximately $386,000 in new vehicles and $40,000 for a women’s shower facility in the city’s fire hall.
There is also $100,000 set aside for the Harbour Quay washrooms and $25,000 for the repair and/or removal of the Harbour Quay clock tower.
The city is projected to collect $20.9 million in property taxes in 2015, up slightly from $20.4 million in 2014.
The city will be paying close to 30 per cent more in fire department service charges, at $155,900 up from $120,800 in 2014.
Youth services and engagement, which were a focal point during the 2014 civic elections, saw a boost.
The Gyro Youth Centre will see a 62.5 per cent increase in funding, up to $6,500 from $4,000 in 2014. Funding for youth programs and services increased from $4,000 to $10,000, a 150 per cent increase.
The Echo Park complex will see a $10,579 decrease in funding, down to $38,449 from $49,028.
Echo Aquatic programs will get a 13.3 per cent increase in funding while Glenwood Centre and Multiplex programs will see 6.6 and 16.3 per cent decreases respectively.
Museum sales and services are projected to increase by 17.3 per cent in 2015, following a 33.4 per cent decrease from 2013 to 2014.
The new budget predicts a 102.1 per cent increase in the cost of public liability insurance. In 2015, insurance will cost the city $322,400, up from $159,500 in 2014 (no reason was given).
The city will spend 33.2 per cent more on overhead and decorative lighting in 2015, or a total of $355,000.
Off-street parking will cost the city $7,677 less in 2015, an 85.3 per cent decrease from 2014.
The city will also pay less 46.3 per cent less for container waste collection, 34.3 per cent less for solid waste container purchase and maintenance and 17.5 per cent less for solid waste disposal this year.
Business development funding took a hit with the city allocating $15,000 less this year, a 25 per cent decrease while community engagement funding plunged 90.4 per cent down to $2,000 from $20,750 in 2014. Tourism promotion lost all funding, down to zero dollars from $5,000.
The museum’s curatorial and permanent exhibit funding will continue to see funding decreases in 2015.
City departments will begin to give their in-depth budget presentations on Feb. 5 at city hall, with a public meeting on Feb. 25 at Echo Centre.