Quesnel Takes Steps to Cut Expenditures and Erase Infrastructure Deficit
Quesnel, B.C.- Council for the City of Quesnel has cut its own travel budget by 34% and made significant cuts to its discretionary spending.
The cuts are in addition to Quesnel Council’s previous decision to roll back the pay increase approved before the November 15th election.
Quesnel is facing a revenue shortfall of about $600 thousand dollars, and the cuts are part of the effort to reduce that shortfall and keep any tax increase to a minimum in order to maintain programs and services at 2014 levels.
“I’m pleased to be part of a team that wanted to take a leadership role in finding the cost savings we needed to maintain 2014 service levels without increasing property taxes for general revenue ”says Mayor Bob Simpson.
The shortfall is due to the loss of industrial taxation in the wake of the closure of the Canfor mill and the reassessment of a West Fraser asset. Simpson says there are also inflationary pressures.
In addition to the cuts approved by Council, Senior management at Quesnel City Hall have agreed to a wage freeze in order to spare layoffs or staff cuts.
Still, there are challenges, not the least of which is the annual infrastructure deficit which has been pegged at $2 million a year. Simpson says in order to address that deficit alone, Council would have had to boost taxes by more than 19% in 2015. He says instead, the savings and applying any annual budget surplus to the capital reserve account, the City’s infrastructure deficit can be addressed with a 5% tax increase for infrastructure only this year and next year.
The $675,000 raised through a 5% tax increase would be transferred to the City’s Capital Reinvestment Reserve which can only be used for the repair and replacement of roads and sidewalks. The proposed 5% tax increase represents an increase of $34.56 for the average house in Quesnel or $20.81/$100,000 in assessed value.
“Quesnel is a vibrant and resilient community. As its elected leaders, Council is focused on ensuring the financial sustainability of the City and maintaining its infrastructure in order to ensure that Quesnel will continue to attract and retain residents, businesses and investment through this transition period,” said Mayor Simpson.