Dawson Creek city council set the budget in stone Friday, adopting the 2019 financial plan and tax rates.
The financial plan contains $75,454,127 of expenditures — $44,525,823 in general operating expenditures, $3,766,980 in water utility expenditures, $1,534,217 in sewer utility expenditures, $12,023,247 in capital, and $3,193,375 in transfers to accumulated surplus and reserves.
The budget was notable in containing $1,351,867 in operational cuts, with initiatives including: reducing park maintenance standards by $400,000, removing funding for the project manager position and half of the building inspector position ($152,642), reducing the library budget by 10% ($59,400), reducing recreation programs with savings of $20,000, reducing promotional items for administration and development services by 50% ($12,500), reducing travel and training by 20% ($110,941), and reducing the use consultants by 43% ($326,057).
The city is also reducing per diem amounts from $125 to $75 ($9,140), and further reducing the administration budget by 7% ($140,000), removing funding from the Energy Management program ($15,601) and the Sustainability program ($17,626), as well as removing partial funding for the grant allocated to the Archivist position at the Historical Society to the tune of $30,000, as well as an increase to $376 per hour for August ice time.
“In 2020 those changes will equate to approximately $1.5 million with the difference being that some of the changes couldn’t be implemented immediately, therefore the full savings wouldn’t realized in 2019,” said CAO Duncan Redfearn, noting staffing changes and program changes, especially considering many of the decisions weren’t finalized until late March or April.
“That change increases the amount of funding and the availability of funding for the capital plan.”
Mayor Dale Bumstead says the moves are just the first part of a long term financial plan.
“This is for us the an initial or kind of first step in regards to addressing that long term financial future we need to achieve at the community, and addressing the operating costs, and transitioning the dependency the city has on the Peace River Agreement on operating , and moving it to capital,” he notes.
“It really is a long term objective, you can’t move that $7 or 8 million that we need to, to go from operating to capital.”
Council will have to keep up the work in future years, he notes.
“It’s all about really looking at additional revenues, where you can find additional revenues, and how you can reduce spending, so there’s all those discussions that need to take place, and we’ll look at other opportunities for revenue into the city, and look at other areas of spending that we say, ‘Are those services we can continue to afford to provide in the long term, and that’ll be part of the 2020 budget and 2021 budget. It’s not an overnight discussion, it’s one that’ll take time to accomplish,” Bumstead says.
One area of increased revenues this year was in taxes.
Most tax categories saw a 2.5% rate increase, except for major industry, which saw an 18.9% increase. The residential mill rate for the City is 5.6233 per $1,000 of assessed value.