“We’re underfunding pretty much everything.” With that comment, Port Alberni engineer Guy Cicon wrapped up his budget presentation in front of city council last week. It was the first shot for city departments to present their budgets for the city’s 2015–19 draft financial plan.
Engineering and public works represents one-quarter of the city’s total budget. They are responsible for roads and water, sewage and garbage, and also look after the city’s cemetery.
Some of the projects engineering will work on this year include completing the Gertrude Street road bridge expansion, the Dry Creek flood mitigation plan, paving the worst parts of city streets, replacing aging water pipes and separating storm and sewer drains—an ongoing requirement by the provincial government, Cicon explained.
The department’s proposed capital budget comes to $2.7 million.
While the city maintains 150 kilometres of road, workers are only able to replace about 1.6 kms per year, at a cost of $500,000—and that’s a bargain, Cicon said, because they are using a less expensive replacement method.
While Cicon was the first presenter, he wasn’t the only one laying out his budget for city councillors.
Johann Van Schaik, the senior regional transit manager for BC Transit, presented the transit budget (53.3 per cent for which the city is responsible).
Port Alberni RCMP Inspector Mac Richards presented the RCMP’s budget, requesting that the department be brought back up to full strength.
The next round of budget presentations is planned for Tuesday, Feb. 17 (economic development and chamber of commerce at 10 a.m., Parks, Recreation and Heritage, IHS at 2 p.m., and fire department at 6 p.m.) and continues Thursday, Feb. 19 (administration, corporate services and reserve funds at 10 a.m. and planning/ SPCA at 2 p.m.).