The Village of Pemberton will have to accommodate for a large reduction in grant funding from the province when setting the 2013 budget, but may carry over a surplus from the past fiscal year.
Pemberton council had its first look at the provisionary budget during Tuesday’s (Feb. 5) committee of the whole session, which was assembled after department heads provided their expected expenses for the current year.
Pemberton will receive about $250,000 by way of the B.C. Government’s Small Community Grant in 2013, which is down from the $533,200 the village received from the program last year.
Although 2012 figures have yet to be finalized, the balance sheet currently shows a surplus of $328,000, so there may be additional funding for council to redirect when completing the current year’s financial plan.
Some of the cost savings were realized in the public works department, which came in under budget on expenses such as snow clearing. As part of the provisionary budget. public works manager Jeff Westlake on Tuesday proposed the creation of a new unionized position in his department, which he said would lead to further reductions in expenses by eliminating the need to contract out work such as fire hydrant maintenance and snow clearing, as examples.
When it came to capital projects, chief administrative officer Daniel Sailland told council that the village’s gas tax grant application towards a new water reservoir was turned down, meaning it will have to borrow in order to get working on the $1.2-million project, listed as a key priority for 2013 in the provisionary budget.
Sailland suggested establishing a good fundraising and communication plan when it came to work on the Friendship Trail bridge, with an eye to beginning construction in 2014 rather than rushing the project forward this year. The village has until the spring of 2015 to utilize gas tax funding approved for the Lillooet River crossing.
At this stage of the budget process, with 2012 numbers not yet finalized, Mayor Jordan Sturdy said it’s still fairly early to be making key decisions. The tax rate won’t be set until the budget is closer to completion in a few weeks, but Sturdy said he doesn’t expect a “dramatic fluctuation” to the rate.
“I certainly want to see where we’re going to end up for 2012 and if we’re going to end up with any surplus at all,” said Sturdy.
The provisionary budget is expected to appear at the Feb. 19 council meeting for approval.
Feedback stalls container bylaw
Sturdy said community members speaking at Tuesday’s public hearings regarding temporary storage containers mostly found “consolation” for their concerns, but the feedback council received was enough for staff to recommend deferring third reading until March for bylaws that would place some restrictions on usage of the containers.
The restrictions as proposed would only apply in Development Permit Areas, meaning areas like the industrial park would be exempt, while existing containers would likely be grandfathered in. Most concerns raised by community members Tuesday came from current container users worried they would have to remove them or not be allowed to make use of them in the future, said Sturdy.
Sturdy given Jubilee Medal
Sturdy learned he was the recipient of a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal before Tuesday’s council meeting, and said he feels it’s an honour that should be shared with the entire Pemberton community.
“I think it’s less about me (individually) and more about me being the figurehead of a really active community that has lots of volunteer and community organizations trying to get things done,” he said. “It’s an honour for the community and everyone should take pride in that.”