The City of Colwood is in the early stages of its budget discussions and the first draft shows the municipality is planning on increasing its property tax revenue by 5.48 per cent over the previous year.
In a report presented at council’s committee of the whole on Feb. 8, staff outlined details of the draft budget, which at this stage would see the city plan to spend $48.25 million – slightly less than the $52.26 million in the previous budget.
The draft 2022 budget anticipates $37.83 million in revenue, with the remaining $10.42 million coming from reserves, transfers and debt. Operating expenses are presented as $25.22 million, capital projects at $17.85 million, transfers to reserves at $4.51 million and debt repayment at around $670,000.
While there are further meetings and discussions planned and changes expected between now and the final 2022-2026 financial plan adoption in March, the early draft indicates the city intends on maintaining its current service levels in most areas, but will increase fire rescue service levels.
The draft plan shows a 16.8 per cent increase – or $368,100 – to the fire rescue budget to hire two more full-time career firefighters and to begin a phased implementation of a paid on-call system in the department. The total proposed fire rescue budget for 2022 is $2,561,600.
The city’s other service areas are set to have budgets aimed at maintaining the current level of service or to include previously approved service level increases.
In order to maintain current service levels, administration and corporate services is set to see its budget grow by 9.6 per cent to $1,814,800; communications would see a 6.3-per-cent increase to $331,700; finance would see a nine-per-cent increase to $892,100; building and bylaw would see a 4.3-per-cent increase to $950,800; community planning would rise 6.8 per cent to $1,358,300; development services would jump 3.5 per cent to $906,500; engineering would see a 5.9-per-cent increase to $1,119,900; roads would see a 8.4-per-cent increase to $717,600; parks, trails and recreation would rise 12 per cent to $2,317,000; boulevards would see a 1.9-per-cent rise to $392,400 and storm sewers would increase 1.7 per cent to $261,000.
The budget calls for a 34.5-per-cent increase in the city’s human resources department to $420,000, which would include a previously approved hiring of an HR coordinator to meet the demands of a growing workforce. The information technology department budget increases 14.5 per cent to include previously approved service level increases.
While public works will see an expanded branch drop-off program, the service area’s budget is actually forecast to shrink by 24.7 per cent to $1,584,400.
Policing costs remain the city’s largest line item, with an expected budget of $5,176,200 representing a 10.9-per-cent increase.
Draft budget discussions are scheduled to continue over several meetings.
On Feb. 16, committee of the whole will meet at 6:30 p.m. to discuss special initiatives and the capital program. On March 1 the committee will discuss sewer operations service levels, the capital program, asset management, reserves and a wrap-up of the entire budget.
On March 14, the revised draft financial plan comes to council for final discussion and approval.