Council presented with revised 2016 budgets

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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — As property owners finally receiving their property assessment letters as the New Year starts, Council has taken another look at the Capital and Operating budgets for 2016.

While this is closer to what will become the budget later on, City Manager Dianne Hunter says to keep in mind it is still a draft budget — and all the comments will help finalize the budget in the future.

Credit: City of Fort St. John
Credit: City of Fort St. John

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Director of Finance Mike Roy says the assessment change accounted for 12.57 per cent altogether. The market change added up to 6.17 per cent, and the non-market change was 6.4 per cent.

“The non-market change from before was slightly less than what was presented for the mid-November non-market prediction, and significantly less than what they projected in September,” says Roy, adding that this number was closer to $300 million.

Roy notes the tax rate would see a 3 per cent increase, but required revenue would decrease tax rates by 3.98 per cent. However, assessment numbers will be confirmed by April 2016.

Regarding reserves, the 2015 budget allowed $1 million to be transferred into reserves from operating for future capital project. To limit the increase to 1.98 per cent, the operating budget reserve transfer for future capital projects is reduced instead to $627,812 in 2016.

Turning the page to the capital budget, it is fairly similar to the last few ones presented to City Staff and Council in previous months.

Roy presented a five-year plan for projects in transportation, facilities, water/sewer, and equipment — to demonstrate the years needed for some of the projects, and when some of the projects will actually begin: such as work to Mathews Park, which is slated to begin next year.

Starting in 2016, the City will be looking at work on the North Peace Cultural Centre, City Hall, Charlie Lake Boat Launch, the North Peace Arena’s Bleachers and HVAC, and work to the RCMP building — among many other projects.

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If projects rely on conditional grants to be done, Roy confirmed that they would be shelved until they funding is approved.

Under the Peace River Agreement, the City receives $23,269,000 each year, until 2020, when they receive $23,734,380. $3,490,350 has been put into reserve, and $16,907,725 is marked as ‘2016 Use’.

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