Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com
City manager Tim Commisso speaks to council Tuesday night.
The city's proposed 2014 tax levy increase is 3.45 per cent for now.
City council has been provided with some suggestions on how to get that number down to 2.76 as it goes through the budget process over the coming weeks but one councillor already has some ideas on how to bring the number down.
"That's a considerable amount," Coun. Rebecca Johnson said of the levy as it stands.
"I certainly think we need, for example, to be out of the daycare business."
Johnson's wonders what the public will think of the levy especially when other costs like hydro, water or even telephone are factored in.
Council was provided with a budget overview and long term financial plan Tuesday night. City manager Tim Commisso said around 1.34 per cent of the proposed levy comes from new growth in the city, meaning the levy is around 2.11 per cent for existing taxpayers.
What that actually means to individual property owners depends on assessments. The levy also includes $2.5 million in the Enhanced Infrastructure Renewal Plan, which would total $9.5 million over the last three years.
"We're making headway," Commisso said of the cost to upkeep $2 billion in city infrastructure.
But the long-term financial plan shows there's still around a $10-million shortfall.
"It takes a lot of money to maintain that in order to not see it fall behind," Commisso said.
The long-term plan also projects $2.5 million in growth next year and $2 million every year until 2019. Commisso said based on building trends the city is seeing, it seems reasonable. And those projections are coming from the city's financial department, which is typically conservative in its estimates.
"It depends on how the economy performs," he said.
A lot of that growth needs to come from the private sector, a trend that seems to be climbing. Around two-thirds of the building permits issues last year were from residential, commercial and a bit of industrial construction.
"That's what you want," Commisso said.
"I would hope that we will see that growth," she said."We can't rely on the public sector all the time. We have to look at the private sector to create that growth."
As for the budget, Commisso said there are more than $1 million in options for council to reduce the proposed tax levy, all in the operating side. Some things can be removed, reduced or deferred if that's the direction council wants to take.
Budget meetings start next Tuesday with a pre-budget public consultation at city hall. It starts at 5:30 p.m.