City councillors had a chance to discuss the draft financial plan last week, and now it’s the public’s turn.
The next step in the City of Nanaimo’s budget process is an e-town hall meeting Monday, Dec. 4.
Victor Mema, the city’s chief financial officer, presented the 2018-2022 draft financial plan to city councillors at a committee of the whole meeting Nov. 27 at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre.
The plan suggests a 2.6-per cent property tax increase as well as increases to water, sewer and garbage collection fees.
“I like the idea that we’re putting our Nanaimo budget on the table in December so that staff can start to implement plans,” said Coun. Jim Kipp.
Coun. Bill Bestwick asked if city departments had been provided with instruction about whether to increase, decrease or remain at the same level with their departmental budgets.
“The instructions asked for a neutral budget,” replied Mema. “Not necessarily status quo, but a cost-neutral budget in most respects and then try to make business cases to justify any increases that any department would have.”
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Tracy Samra, the city’s chief administrative officer, said “we have not engaged at that level” of looking into trimming departmental budgets, because she said that there are other strategies to be considered first.
“The core services review is pretty clear on this. There’s a need to adopt a fiscal policy suite to assist us in the budget process and planning our budget,” she said. “There’s things that we can do now that will find efficiencies that will find ways of saving money in our budget without touching service levels, without touching staffing levels, without making those types of cuts, but simply looking more critically at how we plan.”
She congratulated city council for the projects that are built or in the works and suggested there will be projects within the 2018-2022 financial plan that councillors can prioritize or push back.
“You’re going to have an opportunity to question staff about what would that mean, does that mean that other projects get pushed out, if yes, which ones?” she said.
The e-town hall will start at 7 p.m. Dec. 4 at the conference centre and will run an hour to an hour and a half. For information about ways to participate, click here.