Five-year financial plan approved in Courtenay

Courtenay council approved a five-year financial plan that requires no new taxation to fund 2014 capital projects.

Staff notes, however, that a zero per cent increase is not felt to be sustainable over time.

This year's financial plan provides $5.1 million in planned projects for parks, fire/rescue services, recreation and cultural  facilities, cemetery expenses, public works and infrastructure.

Gas tax revenues will fund the fourth phase of the Rails to Trails project from 21st to 26th streets ($100,000) and improvements to cycling lanes on Fitzgerald Avenue ($55,000).

The projected year end balance for the Community Works Fund (gas taxes) exceeds $2.9 million, which needs to be spent by 2018.

"Along with the asset management planning that will take place, this will become a key source of revenue in using funds towards those priority projects," financial services director Tillie Manthey said Monday.

Mayor Larry Jangula is disappointed the City is not investing more of these funds into pavement, bridges and infrastructure replacement. Manthey expects the next round of funds will be more infrastructure-oriented.

Gaming funds will be used to construct three bus shelters per year.

Demolition and cleanup of property at 810 Braidwood is slated for 2015. The City purchased the site to construct a supportive housing complex in East Courtenay.

No new borrowing is proposed for this budget year. Additional borrowing would be required for a proposed firehall/training grounds facility in East Courtenay and a new police services building in 2015 and 2018 respectively. These projects are subject to public approval.

The public is notified of changes to user fees through regular and special council meetings, and through the City website. A new web-based communication tool dubbed Citizen Budget is being planned. Cost is about $1,700 per year, or three newspaper advertisements.

"I believe that's a very powerful tool for engaging every one of our citizens in the budget process and the prioritization process," Coun. Jon Ambler said.

Council will discuss the operating budget April 9 at 4 p.m.


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