Revised budget priorities to be reviewed by Council Mon 30th

STAFF REPORT
REPORT TO: MAYOR & COUNCIL
FROM: A.C. KENNING, CITY MANAGER AND
B.E. CLEMENS, DIRECTOR OF FINANCE

2011 – 2015 FINANCIAL PLAN BUDGET PRIORITIES

Within a context of fiscal responsibility and sustainable property tax increases and reflecting the community’s Pride of Place, the City of Nanaimo’s budget priorities are:

1. Maintain a high standard of protective services;
2. Maintain civic infrastructure at current or better levels;
3. Improve water supply system to ensure adequate supply of high quality drinking water;
4. Work with employee groups to continuously improve City services;
5. Transition to more sustainable operations;
6. Responsible growth management;
7. Partner with the Province and nonprofit associations to reduce homeless ness in Nanaimo;
8. Support Economic Development Commission in developing and implementing an updated economic development strategy.
Note that these are not in any particular order of importance. Council may wish to rank them, or they can be left unranked.

As in the previous version, staff can provide some commentary on how each of these priorities are being pursued in the existing 2010-2014 Financial Plan.

1. Maintain a high standard of protective services
• Public safety is the largest and fastest growing segment of the City of Nanaimo’s operating budget.
• Council has approved the hiring of 24 new RCMP officers plus 10 support staff over five years.
• An expansion to the Police Services Building is planned for 2012.
• The financial plan contains the costs associated with the 10 year fire plan.
• Fire Hall No 4 was increased to 24/7 staffing in June 2010 and planning for the next fire hall on Hammond Bay Road begins in 2012, which will open in 2014.

2. Maintain civic infrastructure at current or better levels
• The Five Year Financial Plan contains adequate funding for the operation and maintenance of the City’s sewer and water distribution system.
• Staff is also considering making recommendations related to improvements to the sewage collection network and community consultation will begin this fall to discuss the provision of sanitary sewer to the Green Lake neighbourhood,
• The 2010 capital plan contains funds to upgrade Beban Park Centre, including a $1 million grant from the RINC program, but does not contain funding for additional improvements to Beban that have been presented to the Parks, Recreation & Culture commission.
• Replacement or seismic upgrade of the City Hall Annex building.
• Civic infrastructure is not being replaced or upgraded at the same rate that it is depreciating. Staff will be presenting more information to Council on this infrastructure gap.

3. Improve water supply system to ensure adequate supply of quality drinking water
• Over the next decade, expenditures will increase substantially for water supply.
• This is expected to include a new water treatment plant, improvements to existing water storage facilities at the No. 1 Reservoir, and increased storage at Jump Creek (i.e. a new dam or raising the existing dam).
• Water supply is projected to be the largest increase in civic expenditures over the next 5-10 years, and it will be funded through borrowing, DCCs and increased water rates.

4. Work with employee groups to continuously improve City services
• Staff are committed to ensuring continuous service and value improvements. This is reflected in staff’s strategic priorities.
• This could mean changes in service levels in certain areas and reallocation of resources as required.
• Where appropriate, staff will identify higher service level requests for Council’s consideration.

5. Transition to more sustainable operations
• Hired a corporate energy manager in 2009 (partially funded by BC Hydro).
• Significant expenditures are committed over the next five years to projects that lower municipal energy consumption and/or GHG emissions.
• Creation of the Sustainability Reserve.
• Community initiatives such as toilet rebates, wood stove change out program, Burn It Right, pesticide bylaw.
• OCP amendments to support sustainable communities.
• Collaborate with RON on public transportation issues.

6. Responsible growth management
• Continued implementation of the OCP.
• Neighbourhood planning process.
• Comprehensive plan for the Assembly Wharf.
• Contribution to the RON’s Regional Growth Strategy.

7. Partner with the Province and nonprofit associations to reduce homelessness in Nanaimo
• Provide land for the Housing First Strategy.
• Provided a grant to Tillicum Haus for DCCs for Housing First property.
• DCC reductions for non-market housing.
• Housing Legacy Reserve helps fund non-market housing issues.

8. Support Economic Development Commission in developing a new economic development strategy
• New Economic Development Commission will have the opportunity to reshape the City’s economic strategy.
• The new Economic Development strategy will include tourism and issues related to the community’s Pride of Place.

As previously indicated, this list is being presented for discussion purposes and to help focus Council debate on the issues. It is not intended to be a list of staff’s or the Mayor’s budget priorities. The purpose of this discussion is for Council to provide a clear indication of what issues should receive priority in the budget. Once a list of budget priorities is agreed upon and adopted by Council, it will be used by staff to inform the budget process and to make decisions about what items might be recommended to Council to receive more or less funding in the future. In this regard, the more accurately that this list reflects Council’s true priorities, the more likely it will be that the budget that staff is currently preparing will be in alignment with Council’s goals.

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