Every year, the Community Charter requires local governments to approve a Five Year Financial Plan Bylaw which serves as the municipality's budget. This includes Operating Budgets, Water and Sewer Utilities and Capital Programs. (Council approved last years plan on May 2, 2016). Please review our Municipal Budget 101 document to learn about the budget process. Financial planning happens all year. The cycle begins in June and continues until May when Council adopts the plan.
Each year the municipality is faced with the challenge of balancing the budget. While a municipality can incur a debt to pay large capital projects it cannot borrow or mortgage to fund day to day operations the same way that other levels of government can. This is a key difference as it means that the municipality must rely on revenue sources to cover off all expenses for the year. Water and Sewer Utilities also operate on a balanced budget basis as well.
Careful review is used to balance the level of services expected by the community with ability to pay through reasonable taxation and user fees. In doing this the municipality plans to:
- Ensure adequate funding for services
- Continue to move toward a long term goal of infrastructure sustainability
- Diversify revenues as much as possible
- Manage expenses, contain costs, be efficient
- Regularly assess service capacity and delivery
- Provide for contingencies, manage risks and operate prudently
- Maintain reserves for the future, and
- Use debt strategically.
The municipality also is required to collect property taxes levied by other governments including Provincial School Taxes, CRD, CRHD (Hospital District), BC Assessment and these appear on the property owners annual property tax notice.
The 2017 Draft Financial Plan continues to focus on infrastructure replacement. This requires striking a balance between the need to continue increasing capital spending, maintaining service levels and keeping operating costs in check.
The plan also provides for the continuation of services expected by the community. and funding is identified to move strategic priorities of Council forward such as the Year of Reconciliation program, a new website, membership in the South Vancouver Island Economic Alliance, the Keating Business District Project, Multi-family Densification Planning and Brentwood Bay Waterfront Regulations. The balance of full year capacity is added in planning and administration along with human resource and communications capacity to ensure that the organization can meet service expectations while an Organizational Service Review is being completed during the year.
Lastly a good start is made on moving toward sustainable infrastructure replacement funding levels based on the Long Term Financial Plan and Sustainable Asset Management Plan. A significant program of capital work is included.
For 2017 this means that the combined municipal, debt, police and library taxes for an average home will increase by about $56 or 2.96%.
Similar approaches have been employed to produce the Water and Sewer Utility Financial Plans. Costs to replace infrastructure are the predominant factor in developing these utility budgets along with the cost of CRD bulk water and CRD sanitary sewer treatment.
Overall Reserves are expected to be maintained between $16 million and $18 million dollars while all projects identified in the plan are funded. Should grant funding from senior levels of government not be received, some of the larger projects will either need to be deferred or increased use of reserves considered at that time.
The 2017 Financial Plan will be reviewed in a series of budget presentations scheduled as follows:
- February 21 Departmental Presentations
- February 28 Departmental Presentations
- March 7 Capital Program
- March 14 Budget Recap, Policy and Projects.
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