City councillors debate the numbers

By Charlene Tebbutt
November 8, 2018 - 8:41am

From the little things like hand dryers in the washrooms at Kinsmen Park and money for new flag poles, to bigger items such as snow removal, paving, and taxation, local city councillors are busy hammering out the budget numbers this week at City Hall.

Members of Prince Albert City Council wrapped up the first full day of budget deliberations Wednesday, looking at the proposed 2019 budget line by line, everything from the cost of policing to public transit.

Transit was an issue councillors could revisit as day two of talks got underway again this morning.A budget proposal to move $200,000 into a reserve fund to replace city buses at the end of their lifespan generated some discussion late Wednesday. Ward 6 Coun. Blake Edwards suggested moving half the amount into a reserve fund, saying the public needs a reprieve from higher tax rates. Council had previously decided not to increase transit fares as a way to generate more public funds, but the issue is expected to come up again this morning.

Those who represent the public on council say it’s important to put everything on the table when it comes to debating the budget numbers.

“Nickels add up to dollars,” Mayor Greg Dionne said. “So, it’s important that we’re frugal in all the money that we spend and that we hold our employees to task.”

The 2019 proposed budget calls for a property tax increase of 3.9 per cent. City council has already voted to freeze spending to the end of the year, with all unused money from the 2018 budget needing approval before going forward.

Ward 8 Coun. Ted Zurakowski told paNOW that the budget debate is an important part of city operations, and gives both elected officials and staff insight into how things are working, and what can be improved.

“It’s our opportunity to ask direct questions of administration about where the tax dollars are going, and to give administration feedback on what we’re hearing in our neighbourhoods,” he said. “I think this is an opportunity for council to get together and establish priorities and say, ‘let’s deal with some of these long-standing issues.’”

 

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On Twitter: @CharleneTebbutt

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