City’s draft budget draws small crowd

A zero per cent increase in residential taxes passed virtually unnoticed during a presentation on Port Alberni’s draft five-year financial plan, Tuesday night at the Capitol Theatre. So did the fact that industrial taxes will decrease by another $425,000 as the city tries to please Catalyst Paper.

A zero per cent increase in residential taxes passed virtually unnoticed during a presentation on Port Alberni’s draft five-year financial plan, Tuesday night at the Capitol Theatre. So did the fact that industrial taxes will decrease by another $425,000 as the city tries to please Catalyst Paper.

No, the hot button issue of the night was about a proposed nine-week closure of Echo Pool next summer.

Forty or so people showed up for the meeting, roughly half of those making up city staff and media. City manager Ken Watson went over some of the highlights of the five-year financial plan—which is only a draft—then members of the public were given an opportunity to ask questions.

Arnold Begg said a delegation that opposed such a long closure of the pool last year was “totally ignored”. He said people who use the pool for therapeutic and health reasons will lose out if the pool is closed for more than two months in the summer, and said the city should be able to come up with the $60,000 to keep it operating.

Gerry Walerius asked whether the city has set aside money to pay for an increase in salary for local firefighters, and Watson said they have but they won’t know precisely how much they will have to pay until a deal is reached.

The city’s department heads will pitch their budget proposals in a series of public meetings Monday, Jan. 31 (2 and 7 p.m.), Tuesday, Feb. 1 (7 p.m.) and Wednesday, Feb. 2 (2 and 7 p.m.).

Public comment will be accepted until Feb. 9. E-mail ken_watson@portalberni.ca.

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