Mayor Morris Flewwelling is predicting this year’s operating and capital budgets will be tough.
“It will be a tight budget,” he said. “There will be almost no initiatives unless they are really, really critical and we will be looking at ways of making some cuts and possibly discontinuing some things that we do.”
He added council will try to make the reductions in a manner that doesn’t devastate any programs that the public is very supportive of.
“We could make slashes and cuts but the response of the public from that would be huge and enormous,” said Flewwelling. “If the public doesn’t support a program there might be an opportunity to look at that.”
He added he anticipates the tax increase next year will be similar to this year.
“The City has gone along for the past several years where our budget increase is somewhere in the neighbourhood of seven or eight per cent,” he said. “This year with great effort we reduced that to about three per cent or so and that will continue.”
In addition, Councillor Lynne Mulder said she anticipates this year’s budget to be “aggravating”.
“We weren’t hit too badly the first year (after the economic downturn) and then we had some difficulty this year and next year will be aggravating for us,” she said. “So I certainly agree it will be a tight budget but I have every confidence we can pull it off.”
Mulder added because council pushed some of their capital projects back further in the last budget that will help them deal with the upcoming budget.
“I think operationally we’ll also be looking at not doing a lot of increases in levels of service,” she said. “I think we’ve got that well in hand.”
Councillor Cindy Jefferies said she anticipates this year’s budget to be similar to last year.
“We’ll really have to take a look at our expenditures and not expect too much of an increase in the way of revenue,” she said. “So I think that we’ll just have to be careful and mindful of the economic situation because we haven’t quite recovered from that yet.”
Jefferies added council has begun discussing the next budget.
“In the discussions we have had leading up to the budget it’s been our philosophy to pretty much continue as we have last year – cautious but not so cautious that we’re putting off everything until tomorrow.”
City council will debate the 2011 capital budget in December followed by the operating budget in January.