City council began 2018 operating budget deliberations today, and crime remains at the top of residents’ minds based on the Ipsos survey the City conducted.
The 2018 operating budget as recommended to council has an increase of $2,596,546 or the equivalent of a 2% tax increase.
City Manager Craig Curtis gave a presentation on various items, and announced some important updates, including a proposed increase in new RCMP officers and municipal employees and an increase in growth revenues. This would bring the total number of officers to 168 and municipal staff to 96.5.
“The growth revenues were higher than we had projected earlier because some of the new commercial facilities were undertaken in the last quarter and completed in the last quarter of 2017,” said Curtis.
The commercial facilities he was referring to were a lot of the big box stores that have been newly developed, which provided additional revenues as well as some of the occupancy of some of the smaller areas.
“That provided much more commercial growth and some new apartments as well, so we were able to up the revenue from new growth from $1 million to $1.5 million.
“That additional $500,000 with a small reduction for an area we couldn’t achieve has been applied directly to the police resourcing.”
They have proposed eight new officers and three new municipal employees, as opposed to the original proposal of four new officers and two municipal employees.
“The additional revenue from growth has been applied directly to help improve that ratio of police officers to population,” said Curtis.
He added that the rationale is they’ve had some difficulties with crime, the impact of the opioid crisis, the rough sleeper camps and drug addiction issues.
“We are finding that we have some ongoing crime issues that have been identified in all our surveys as being the highest priority issue for council to address over the next 12 months.”