Budget ready for public input

Budget meetings held today, Thursday and Friday starting at 9 a.m., with public input set for 11:30 a.m.

Residents can have a direct say in Vernon’s financial plan.

Budget meetings will be held today, Thursday and Friday starting at 9 a.m., with public input set for 11:30 a.m.

“We’re looking forward to hearing from the public,” said Mayor Rob Sawatzky.

The overall proposed budget is 1.8 per cent higher than 2012 ($448,041), but no determination has been made on a possible tax increase.

“I’m hoping to see a good, full discussion on long-term policy objectives,” said Sawatzky.

Administration has provided solutions to replace $2 million in reserves that were used to supplement the 2012 budget.

The options include fee for service hikes or service reductions.

Staff has also requested an increase in property taxes by 1.9 per cent a year over a decade for infrastructure. That would generate about $6 million.

The budget can be found at www.vernon.ca/services/finance/documents/2013_2017ProposedFinancialPlan.pdf

On Monday, staff asked council to give early budget approval to 12 capital works projects worth $5.4 million.

However, permission was only given to three projects and the remainder will be discussed during the budget meetings this week.

“They can be justified during budget time,” said Coun. Bob Spiers, adding the items proposed must be considered as part of the overall financial plan.

However, Coun. Mary-Jo O’Keefe opposed the move, saying that seeking tenders will be delayed.

“There’s a cost savings involved and we want to pre-approve contractors,” said O’Keefe.

“It’s cherry-picking and I resent it. It’s not serving residents well.”

The three items given early budget approval are the Tronson Road sewer lift station for $1 million and 30th Avenue revitalization for $2 million.