Public will have say on budget

Cuts won’t come until April, but Kamloops city council will have plenty to consider as it heads into budget deliberations for 2013.

The preliminary budget estimate shows a 3.91 per cent tax increase, which would see owners of residential properties with an average assessed value of $340,000 shelling out an extra $65.40 in taxes.

With already-approved hikes to sewer and garbage fees factored in, the increase amounts to $83.70.

But, add in a list of supplementary items presented to council on Jan. 15, and the tax rate would increase to 7.34 per cent.

Mayor Peter Milobar said council won’t rule out any of the line items in the supplementary budget until the city’s public-consultation period ends, but he expects a lot of trimming will follow.

“The numbers are large and I doubt they’re going to stay where they are by the end of it, so I wouldn’t raise too many eyebrows.”

Public budget meetings are scheduled for 7 p.m. at Interior Savings Centre on Jan. 22 and 29 and Feb. 5 — all Tuesdays.

City sports facilities make up a major portion of the supplementary list this year.

Director of finance Sally Edwards said staff wants to start stockpiling $400,000 a year in reserves so the city can replace the indoor track at the Tournament Capital Centre and Hillside Stadium’s outdoor track in 2017. The two projects will have a combined price tag of $4 million.

There are another $85,000 in TCC-related requests on the list, including floor repairs and an upgraded security-camera system.

A waterpark in Westsyde is also on the list, which would require $280,000 in taxpayer funds. A repair of the roof at the Canada Games pool would cost $340,000.

Taxpayers will also pick up $905,000 of the $1.5-million renovation of John Tod elementary, which will house the Kamloops YMCA-YWCA and the Boys and Girls Club.

As well, this year’s list includes more than a dozen new staff positions, including two new RCMP officers.

RCMP Supt. Yves Lacasse said the new officers, who would bring the department’s complement up to 120, would work on domestic-violence and mental-health files, both of which are on the increase.

“The complexity associated with these investigations, the risk associated with these investigations are huge for the detachment,” he said.

Other staff requests would bring contracted positions in-house at the city, including HVAC and septic-truck services. An HVAC truck costs $475,000; a septic truck $250,000.

Corporate services and community safety director David Duckworth said bringing the positions in-house will cut the costs of the services almost in half.

“Right now, we pay about $220 an hour for a contractor, compared to about $120 an hour if we did it internally,” he said, estimating it would take under three years to pay off the equipment required.

Other items on this year’s supplemental list include $60,000 to make repairs to the front steps at city hall and $30,000 for a dog park in Juniper Ridge.

Council will also have to decide whether to approve another increase to transit services — though the effects of the decision won’t be felt at this time.

The city can pick up another 6,000 transit hours in 2015 and would need to order three new buses to accommodate the increase.

That order would need to be placed this year.


Early approval

One item  on council’s supplementary budget list for 2013 got an early approval Jan. 15.

City council agreed to the hiring of three new full-time staff members to manage the city’s capital construction projects in-house.

Tracy Kyle, the city’s new director of public works, said the positions don’t require any new taxpayer funds, and should save the city a bit of cash.

In the past, Kamloops has contracted out for project managers, but Kyle said city staffers still have to be assigned to keep an eye on each project. By hiring its own project managers, the city will save cash and also have more control over its projects.

According to a staff report, when a city employee oversaw work on last year’s Lorne Street upgrades, he was able to shave about $300,000 off the project costs by negotiating with suppliers and making changes to the design.

The three staff will cost the city $330,000, but staff estimate they’ll save the city more than $600,000 on project costs.

Kyle said staff wanted council to approve the new hires early, so they could be in place by the time the city is ready to start working on this year’s capital plan.








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