Weyburn's City Council met last night for the first Council of 2018.
On the agenda was the 2018 City Budget.
Total revenues expected to come in are just under $35.5 million. Total expenses in the budget including capital projects and what it costs to run the city (operating) ends with a deficit of $284,453 after transfers of near $13.5 million from operating and capital reserves and loan advances.
"The budget that has been put forward by staff includes a program where we are putting less than a third of a percent increase on our operating budget, an increase in our capital budget to do some extra roads work we want to see done," explained Roy Hardy, City Manager, City of Weyburn whose job it is to bring the budget to Council for approval.
The budget draft presented to council for 2018 would mean a tax levy increase of 4.74% per household. It was estimated this could mean on average $50-$80 a year per household.
Hardy and City of Weyburn staff have been in discussions with City Councillors with suggesting budget items that could be removed from the 2018 budget based upon city priorities.
The nine items recommended by City staff based which could be cut with the amount saved next to it are as follows:
- Interest transfer to reserve now being kept in operating: $100,000 - This used to be $500,000 but already reduced to $100,000 due to the economic downturn.
- Software savings by using existing: 15,000
- Consulting - Downtown street lights reduced to 25,000: $50,000
- 7th street west replacement of storm sewer: $40,000
- Aerator Assesment: $20,000
- A new police station sign: $2000
- Fire Department flooring: $35,000
- Leisure Centre flooring and Library office: $63,000
- Department of Works flooring: $70,000
The total amount saved could be $395,000
These savings would lessen the tax levy increase to 1.78%
There was some discussion by the Council as to which items if any should be set aside for 2018.
Some Councillors said they would like to see the levy increase lessened to around 2.75%-3%.
Others said they would like more information before they make an important decision.
During the discussion, it was decided to table the budget until the next open council meeting in February to give time for the councillors time to make sure they have all the information they need.
A motion was also passed for staff to be given the approval to move ahead with certain capital projects costing over $100,000 in order to allow for a time-sensitive highway project to move ahead.
Hardy also said the budget system in place this year is part of a new process to help identify priorities.
"Not to focus on cuts but basically make sure that the dollars being spent are being spent in the right place for the right reasons."