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New budget numbers today show tax increase down slightly

March 19th, 2009 · 1 Comment

The latest update from the finance committee is due out today, showing that the new likely tax increase is somewhere around 5.7 per cent. Since this new council plans to keep up with the shift of taxes from the business sector to the residential sector, that will effectively mean an increase of close to eight per cent for residents and about four per cent for businesses. (Just under, in both cases)

It’s not a huge amount different than the six and something put forward a couple of months ago, but the difference this time is that the city is projecting $12 million less from various development and construction fees than that previous report, as construction activity continues to plummet.  So the tax increase has only shifted down by a little, but there was still a whole lot of cuttin’ that had to go on to achieve that.

According to the report, the new emergency measures that city manager Penny Ballem got to put in place resulted in about $16 million being shaved off the budget. Out of that, almost $7 million comes from the hiring freeze that was instituted. So don’t look for that freeze to be coming off any time soon. Another $2 million comes from freezing ongoing project contracts.

A few departments also took some hits — NOT police, fire and so on — which people who fill out surveys and answer polls always say is their priority. For some reason I haven’t been able to decipher yet, the city clerk’s office is taking a hit of almost 30 per cent, with cultural affairs and the community services group also seeing budget reductions. The Gathering Place downtown is also losing about $200,000. Business and finance also gets a health increase, and the mayor and councillors’ budget also increase by five per cent.

Please feel free to point out unexplained increases and decreases that you notice as well.

As a numbers wonk, I feel obliged to point out that the tax increase this year would seem lower if there hadn’t been a strike. But because the strike savings got ploughed into reducing last year’s tax increase, this one seems that much higher.

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