If they didn’t reach a zero per cent tax increase for its residents for 2020, Armstrong Mayor Chris Pieper thinks they’re close.
Council deliberated for 45 minutes Monday, April 27, on a staff report that offered up more reductions. Council asked staff to try and get to a zero per cent increase for its residents as a way of helping through the COVID-19 crisis. They had previously approved a nearly five per cent tax hike.
“We’ll be close to zero, but I don’t know if we’re there,” Pieper said. “We’ve preserved what we had in there and we did not make cuts that will impact next year.”
The actual percentage tax increase won’t be known for a couple of weeks.
Council gave staff two weeks to look at the old budget and come up with ways to cut and save for 2020 without jeopardizing plans for 2021.
Staff proposed and council agreed to reduce the 2.5 per cent infrastucture levy in half to 1.25 per cent. It means the city will have less money to work with but it will also save the city $26,000. This is for all levels of classes from residential to commercial and industrial.
The city will see $100,000 in employment savings. They will delay hiring a technician for its water and sewer project for six months to save $42,000, and another $21,000 will be saved through wage strategies.
Staff travel, conference and hotel reduction will save another $9,500, and council will not attend the Southern Interior Local Government Association (SILGA) conference – which was to have started Tuesday, April 28 in Vernon – and fewer council members will attend the Union of British Columbia Municipalities’ annual conference slated for Sept. 21-25 in Victoria, saving the city $10,000.
A portion of the city’s Christmas lights was to have been replaced at a cost of $7,500, but that’s been taken out of the budget as has spending $6,000 on a report to support council’s strategic objective surrounding roads and a community transportation network plan.
Council ended up cutting more than $100,000 from the 2020 budget.