Councillors answered taxpayers’ questions Monday, Dec. 10, at an e-town hall meeting about the preliminary 2019-2023 financial plan. GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin

Nanaimo council faces taxpayer questions about budget

Preliminary 2019 budget now includes potential tax increase of 5.08 per cent

Nanaimo’s new council says this year’s budget and its potential 5.08-per cent property tax increase are a part of rebuilding the city.

Councillors answered taxpayers’ questions tonight, Dec. 10, at an e-town hall meeting about the preliminary 2019-2023 financial plan.

Council approved all the finance and audit committee recommendations from last week’s budget deliberations, then added one more staff position to bump up the projected tax increase from 4.97 per cent to 5.08 per cent.

The preliminary budget is to receive three readings Dec. 17, but Coun. Don Bonner and others said council will continue to look at the budget in the new year.

“A number of us want to be able to turn the ship and we’re barely getting to the wheelhouse,” he said. “Once we’ve got our sea legs down, we’re be able to make the decisions and start moving this ship in the direction we want and tailoring our budget for that.”

Coun. Erin Hemmens agreed, saying budgeting has been a difficult process both due to the timelines and because council doesn’t have a strategic plan as a guide.

“As for the nuts and bolts of where we’re going to pull from, what we’re going to cut, what we’re going to grow, this budget is reflective, I think, of being six weeks on the job,” she said.

Bonner said staff has “done a phenomenal job” so far on the financial plan and said he looks forward to continuing conversations both with council and with the general public.

“This budget, for me, and I think speaking for council here, has been really about rebuilding,” said Coun. Ben Geselbracht. “I think property taxes have been extremely low over the last few years because insufficient funds have been put into asset management, services have been cut, for example like bylaw enforcement … services that the community expects.”

Coun. Zeni Maartman criticized the previous council for its budgets including one “negative budget” year where the tax increase was zero while factoring in a one-per cent increase to asset management.

“By not being fiscally responsible, they have put this council in the position that if we want to get back to just status quo before we start making our plans, we actually have to increase property taxes appropriately,” she said.

Coun. Tyler Brown added that he’s impressed with “staff’s ability to achieve what they have achieved over the last several years considering the lack or resources they were given.”

The one new staff position added to the preliminary budget Monday is that of an active and sustainable transportation coordinator. Brown had motioned to add the position at a finance meeting last week and it was defeated on a tie vote, but passed 6-3 on Monday.

“I would like to see a position that sets the tone that this type of development of infrastructure is supported in our city,” Brown said. “It ensures all modes of transportation are part of our collective ethos and so that we can have a healthier, more equitable, more green city.”

Councillors Jim Turley, Ian Thorpe and Sheryl Armstrong voted against adding the position.

Also of note, Turley made a motion to stagger in an increase of four firefighters over three years instead of adding all four in 2019, but no other councillor seconded his motion.

READ ALSO: Nanaimo city council will reconsider waterfront walkway plan

READ ALSO: Councillors want to re-evaluate city’s economic development model



editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Help keep customer service workers safe

Remember that people asking you to respect health guidelines are still people, says retail worker

Paul Manly reacts to Liberal throne speech

Manly says the Liberals need to back up their promises with action

Best of the City: Greek taverna takes top spot

Asteras in the Old City Quarter chosen Nanaimo’s Best Restaurant Overall

Best of the City: Making a house a home

Dodd’s Furniture, voted Best Furniture Store, settles into new location in Nanaimo

MLA in a pandemic, Nanaimo’s Malcolmson looking to be part of B.C.’s recovery

Sheila Malcolmson running for re-election in Nanaimo riding

B.C. records 98 more COVID-19 cases, most in Lower Mainland

One new senior home outbreak, Surrey Memorial outbreak over

Best of the City: This year’s winners

Nanaimo News Bulletin presents full results of our 2020 Best of the City readers’ survey

Vancouver Island Tour de Rock riders roll into Parksville Qualicum Beach

Saturday’s schedule includes Port Alberni, Ucluelet and Tofino, followed by Nanaimo on Sunday

PHOTOS: 2nd calf in a month confirmed among Southern Resident killer whale pod

Center for Whale Research said they will eagerly await to observe the calf to evaluate its health

2 British Columbians arrested, 3 at large in massive Alberta drug bust

Eight people are facing 33 charges in what police have dubbed Project Incumbent

97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized from farm in Princeton

RCMP assisted as BC SPCA executed search warrant

Snuneymuxw artist brings aquatic designs to Nanaimo’s Beban Park pool

Work by artist Eliot White-Hill is being installed at the pool this month

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Most Read