CITY HALL officials have told council it needs to raise property taxes by 2.5 per cent to cover wage increases and inflation.
And the increase won’t add any new services, council was told last night at the first of what will be a series of meetings to craft the city’s 2012 budget.
City finance director Ron Bowles did say there will be new tax revenue from new developments but that it won’t be enough to keep property taxes down.
The draft budget was crafted with several principles in mind: maintaining the same services, prior years’ fiscal plans, the city’s strategic plan, already-started projects carrying on and the cost of inflation, said Bowles.
Money-saving ideas were raised by some at the meeting.
Mayor Dave Pernarowski asked if $25,000 could be saved by not putting fluoride in city water, citing public criticism of the practice as rationale.
“It’s certainly more of a health issue than cost issue,” said city public works director Herb Dusdal, adding it is a possibility.
Councillor Bruce Bidgood asked if it was possible to take some of the money from the budget’s $1.3 million surplus without affecting the city’s ability to provide emergency services.
“This budget, I believe, is pushing on our surplus,” said Bowles.
The city maintains a surplus money in case of an emergency or if some item ends up costing more than expected, Bowles explained.
For instance, the city has dipped into its surplus in order to keep up with this year’s record snowfall.
Bidgood asked Dusdal if new snow removal equipment had been considered when drafting the snow removal budget.
“If winters continue what they’re doing, yes,” Dusdal replied, adding he’s happy with snow removal practices now and that decision would be made next year.