Saanich to explore budget reductions

Council leaves room for options to reduce budget by one per cent, as well as 1.5 per cent

Saanich staff has been given the go ahead to include potential cost reductions in the 2017 budget proposal.

Council is supporting the move after it found it challenging to request reductions to the 2016 draft budget when they received it in February. In response, council voted on Monday to give staff its support to include an additional set of options in the budget proposal, citing where potential reductions could be made, putting a priority on operational efficiencies and cost savings initiatives.

“I always think we wait too late in the budget to contemplate the reductions,” said Coun. Susan Brice. “It’s the early stages, but we know there is a CUPE deal to be resolved, and other ongoing commitments that are going to cause an increase in the budget.”

When council received the 2016 budget proposal in February, it asked staff to trim it down from 3.25 per cent above the previous year to 2.75 per cent. By April, staff had come through, but it wasn’t without its stresses, Brice said.

Brice supported a scenario that will show an additional two options in the 2017 draft proposal. One option will propose a strategy to reduce the budget by one per cent, and another by 1.5 per cent.

“This way when we look at the tentative budget in the future we’ll know if those reductions are satisfactory, or how they will be eliminating or altering services that we are committed to going forward with,” Brice said.

Presumably there will be a report appended to the budget that says what will be reduced or affected to reach those goals, though that is not clear as of yet.

Saanich isn’t expect to see a significant increase in revenue, as the level of growth is steady, but with nothing in progress such as the Uptown project to boost tax revenues.

One of the new costs is the lease and operating expense for Saanich Police’s new detective office at 57 Cadillac Ave., estimated at $113,000, as well as $184,634 for the newly created South Island Prosperity Project for economic development.