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City curbs dam spending
City councillors have shaved some projects and saved others in an effort to reduce the proposed residential tax rate in Port Alberni.
After the smoke cleared at Monday’s special budget meeting, councillors wrestled the tax rate down to 11.5 per cent. They originally proposed a 13.7 per cent increase.
The rate is based on an average single family residence with an assessed valued of $183,200.
Several big ticket items were cut from the budget.
Council nixed $300,000 earmarked for repair work to the McLean Mill dam and re-allocated the money to road repair instead. Council okayed $245,000 carried over from 2012 for dam safety work with any money left over to go to road repair.
City manager Ken Watson apprised council of a letter from provincial dam official John Baldwin. The city is the dam owner, Baldwin said, “...and will be held responsible for any damages that might result from the failure of the licensed works.” Baldwin asked to be notified of the city’s intentions regarding the dam within 30 days.
Also cut was $250,000 in upgrades to the Kitsuksis road bridge on Gertrude Street. Engineer Guy Cicon proposed that the bridge deck and walkways be widened. The money was instead moved to the road construction budget.
Councillors also trimmed the Port Alberni Fire Department’s budget. They nixed $41,000 for replacing a pickup truck, and made $2,600 in administrative savings.
Councillors requested a report on the pros and cons of not spending $40,0000 this year to revamp the fire department’s record management system, as well as a report on not replacing its 1970s-era pumper truck.
Council voted against spending $27,000 for infrastructure to webcast city council meetings. Instead, it chose to spend $3,000 to rebroadcast Shaw channel 4 for Internet streaming.
Council’s paperless $8,000 initiative involving iPads for councillors, as well as $8,000 for computers for the engineering department will go ahead.
Another round of special meetings is slated for next week.