The City of Port Alberni released its proposed five-year financial plan for 2020-2024 around the same time Mosaic Forest Management announced an early winter shutdown, which affects thousands of forestry workers on Vancouver Island and the B.C. coast.
The timing was truly unfortunate. The city is proposing a 5.1 percent tax increase for 2020 to cover a number of projects, just as more forestry workers are facing an uncertain winter. The social media fallout was almost immediate.
This is the earliest the city has released its proposed budget in years, which means the public will have plenty of time to weigh in on what they perceive to be the city’s fiscal priorities.
The city’s respective departments began presenting their annual wish lists and budgets this week, and will continue with sessions on Dec. 4 and Dec. 5 from 6–9 p.m. respectively. The proposed financial plan is available for viewing online, and if you aren’t one to read such a document online, a call to city hall will likely net you a printed copy if you ask nicely.
Some things that are important to consider when you’re reading the budget: it’s a draft. That means almost everything is subject to questioning. Some expenses for projects are in different years of a multi-year schedule. Some projects or purchases that are proposed for 2020 have been pushed back in previous budget years; some of them are important, and have to be dealt with eventually.
Another aspect to consider: if you want to see new things in the city, you have to be prepared for the cost. There’s always a price for progress.
The Alberni Valley News will be writing about the departmental wish lists to be revealed this week. The lists will also be available for anyone to read on the city’s website, www.portalberni.ca. Taxpayers will have a number of opportunities to share their constructive thoughts, both in person and electronically, in the new year.
The important thing to take away from this proposed budget is that it is a draft: it doesn’t have to be legally adopted until May 2020. Now is the time for taxpayers to do their homework, and decide what they want to see—within reason—come to fruition in the next year.
— Alberni Valley News