The newly-elected Port Alberni city council has started looking at this year’s budget.
Council met for its first budget meeting of the year on Monday, Jan. 21. City CAO Tim Pley brought forward a draft plan for the 2019-2023 Five Year Financial Plan, with a warning that the plan follows the direction set by the previous council.
The city, he said, is in a “fairly unique situation,” as mayor and council are going over budget deliberations without a strategic plan established.
“We’re operating on the assumption that the best place to start with this draft financial plan is to follow the previous five-year financial plan,” he said on Monday. “We think it’s probably a good starting point.”
The previous council set a new direction in 2017, looking at a gradual redirection of heavy industry tax revenue to infrastructure renewal. Council held taxation increases to three percent for residential taxpayers, and city departments were held to no more than a five percent increase over a five-year period. Only the police, fire and economic development departments went over this budget.
In 2018, council agreed to stay the course, sticking to the same figures as the previous year.
Mayor Sharie Minions said it is important to consider the “long-term needs” of the community, rather than just sticking to an arbitrary number.
“I think, going forward, I want us to look at how we can hold our spending and see that driving innovation,” she said.
Council will continue to look over the draft budget over the next few months. The next budget meeting is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 28 at 6 p.m. at council chambers. It is open to the public and will be streamed on the city’s website.
The draft 2019-2023 Five Year Financial Plan is also available on the city’s website.