Coun. Leo Bruce, co-chair of the city’s finance committee, said Monday that other than a bit of fine tuning by staff, the 2013 budget is ready and will be brought down during the regular council meeting on Dec. 17.
Bruce said doing a budget in an assessment year is always tough and this year it was made all the more challenging with the average residential property assessment going up by 24 per cent and the average business assessment rising by 15 per cent.
He said the city couldn’t stay status quo on the current 9.25 residential mill rate and had to make an adjustment to it.
While he wouldn’t say exactly how much the mill rate will change, Bruce said “it certainly won’t be up.”
He said there’s a fine line or a balancing act that comes into play when doing a budget. “And I think we achieved that. Because we’ve got to be fiscally responsible and try and bring a budget in that suits most of our residents, or all of our residents, and also we try and maintain the services that we presently offer.”
As for what else the budget will contain, Bruce said residents can expect the city to stay the course and maintain upgrades to infrastructure and paving.
Bruce said the city has made some “major ground” on paving over the last few years.
With between $2.5 and $3 million a year spent on paving in the last few years the city has been able to do some new roads, cap some old roads, fix problem areas and prevent some major problems.
Preparing the budget was a little different for the finance committee this year with the addition of a public consultation.
Bruce said the committee heard from about six presenters at a public session and also accepted written submissions.
Outside of that the committee met for a couple of meetings before conducting a two-day budget preparation session on Nov. 22 and 23. The committee then made a presentation to council on Nov. 24 and 25.
“Council agreed on what we had to do and where we had to go and now the document is being written,” said Bruce.