The city’s 2023 operating budget has been approved.
It includes a tax levy increase of 4.61% which translates into a 3.23 % tax rate increase for the average taxpayer.
Annually, that’s about $47 on every $100,000 of assessment.
Councillor Jamie Lowery was one of nine council members who supported the fiscal plan.
But he also says some other options could’ve been looked at.
“The one opportunity that I think we could seize on and create habits on is a hiring freeze,” he says. “I do believe there’s a number of positions that are becoming available, whether through attrition or retirement or those kinds of things, that a process should be put in place where we can evaluate them, or have staff put in a process to evaluate opportunities to invest in the organization.”
Councillors Mark King and Tanya Vrebosch voted against the budget.
King says he’s keeping his word by not supporting any increases, but also says they need to scale back and make the hard decisions to reduce the budget.
He says the city’s reserves are one area of opportunity.
“Total reserves of $75.6 million as of the 2021 audit begs the question, how much is too much?” he asks.
King also says with about 14 employees identified as possibly taking pensions in the next year, there’s an opportunity to reduce staffing levels without layoffs.
He says following a plan for ongoing attrition and employment levels would help with cost controls.
As previously reported, Council will also be working on a deep dive into financial policies going forward.
Meanwhile, the city’s $30 million capital budget received unanimous support.
It does not include the new Community and Recreation Centre project which will be voted on separately once the tenders come in.