Budget 2020

At January 27 Council there is a report recommending approval of the budget which was originally tabled on Jan. 13.  I consider the recommended 2.89% net tax levy increase to be appropriate.  As reviewed in the report our financial profile is in good shape:  our debit is declining and we are far below the maximum borrowing capacity; we are making steady annual contributions to the infrastructure reserves. The draft 2020 budget continues this performance.  The proposed net tax levy increase translates to a forecasted increase of $200.33 on the blended property tax of a home with an assessed value of $850,000.  (In 2020 average assessment increase is 3.2%; for properties which increased more than the average the forecasted blended tax rate increase will be greater than $200.33; if increased less than 3.2% the property tax increase will be less.)  Impact on blended property tax is only a forecast as the levies from Region and Education are not yet finalized.

King’s total budget is $79.6 million; $34.8 million is capital  which was approved in 2019 when we approved a 4 year capital program.  In the report the 5 major capital projects for 2020 are identified. The operating budget of $44.8 is what is to be approved on Jan. 27.

Within the operating budget there are 15 proposed program changes to enable providing better service; total impact on next tax levy is $632,013, 2.05%.    Page 11 of the report lists all the changes; to understand the changes, the benefits of them and the consequences of not implementing them go to the budget binder page 131). Below are my thoughts on why I think the 7 largest proposed changes should be implemented.  Note:  the $$ amounts indicated below are the net tax levy impacts.  (Gross costs have been reduced by revenue generated or by costs already occurring because the position has been filled to date by a contractor or part time.)

Climate change initiative for $100,000.  We have declared a climate emergency; we need to take action.  As the details as to how we are going to succeed in reducing our GHG are not defined yet this is only, at best, a small commitment to do what we need to do.

GIS Database Administrator for $116,875.  We live in a data based world, or at least there is the technology available to have our data, our knowledge digitized which enables problem solving and communication.  This is not something which the public necessarily will use directly but it is critical for the Staff to provide expected service.  As indicated in the program justification page our Staff could continue to work as they do but they have identified that there is significant opportunity to do much more.

Business Analyst for $116,250.  With our current staffing we are not exploiting the software we have purchased.  Current staffing complement is not doing so due to priorities driven by the reality that there is need for very high levels of performance & function along with data security protection.

Bylaw Staff for parking enforcement for $35,335.   We could continue to have some enforcement by use of contractors during predicted periods of high complaints as we have done previously.  But, as is always the case, the introduction/onboarding of contractors does consume time and diverts effort away from the work.  Very importantly by being full time the new person would be able to respond to other complaints such as noise and signs which would then allow the current staff to focus on zoning bylaw infractions and other serious issues.

Drainage Improvement Program for $50,000.  I consider this to be a very modest increase and I suspect it is inadequate to really make progress on dealing with things such as filled ditches, almost plugged culverts etc.  Given climate change and the increase in rainfall we must budget for this work.

Parks Operator with arborist skills for $73,500.  This is NOT an arborist for the trees in our parks; under the Tree Management Program Parks is responsible for all urban street trees, trees along the 275 km of rural roads and the parks 7 green spaces.  In addition to managing the contractors there is the need to respond to calls from public (e.g. road obstruction, inquiries about health of trees etc, how to protect).  Trees are a extremely valuable asset as they are a carbon sink in addition to providing shade and more.  Council did not approve a tree bylaw but there was a voiced intent to look after our trees.

Library Assistant for $44,864.   As well documented in the program change request staffing levels in the King library system are well below the library systems comparable to Kings.  Library use is increasing; we have made big investment in new library in King City.  Right level of staffing is entirely appropriate.

I am interested to know what you think about the budget.

 

 

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