Due to the abundance of budgetary planning meetings in January and February, council cancelled one of the March meetings so it has been more than a month since they met publicly. After the departure of CAO Linda Tynan, this allowed her interim replacement Tim Palmer to get up to speed in his new role.
Monday night’s meeting was all about the budget. The five-year plan for finances in Nakusp was rolled out to an audience of staff members and a couple of members of the public and media. The meeting started with an update from the AKBLG organizer Veronica Sergeant, followed by updates on the waterfront lighting project and permit renewal for the Farmer’s Market for 2015. The Mayor and Councillors gave reports on their committees and recent outside meetings.
Village CFO Clyde Bersky took the floor for the majority of the meeting to run through a PowerPoint presentation on the specifics of the 2015-2019 budget.
Increased revenues will come from a two per cent increase in property taxes, a five per cent increase in sewer tax, and two per cent in water none of which was new information. Now that the crisis at the water treatment plant has been resolved, the next challenge will be to deal with the arena roof that has been patched repeatedly and continues to leak and is not up to current structural code.
Main areas of focus for the next few years include integrating Public Works and Arena Parks departments to streamline duplication and create efficiencies, continued improvements and marketing of the hot springs as well as identifying opportunities for greater operational efficiencies.
Water is being lost in the system due to leaks and will require the assessment and repair in a few places, most notably Sleepy Hollow, where the director of operations is working with WaterSmart and Build Canada to obtain the funds for a pressure valve to stem the loss.
Bersky presented a chart ranking municipalities with populations under 11,000. Nakusp is doing well with less than $1000/person whereas several communities were substantially higher — for example Whistler, which was more than $3000/person.
The village is highly focused on striking a balance between increasing revenues and utilizing the funds that have begun to accumulate in the reserves. It is not a good position for a village to be increasing funds only to stockpile, but it is also not smart to be in a position without cash reserves for emergencies and major expenditures.
The third and final reading of the budget is slated for April 27 in the upstairs meeting room at the village offices at 6:30 p.m. The public is welcome to attend and express concerns before it is adopted.