2015 Budget Speech

NEW BUSINESS
January 12, 2015
Read by Finance Chair Councillor Brent Budz

2015 Budget

Your Worship and members of Council, this evening I am very pleased to present the 2015 budget for approval. The previous council was committed to holding tax increases to a minimum and we as a new council have managed to continue the trend. I am very pleased to announce that we have developed a spending plan for 2015 with a tax increase of 0.66% over 2014, which is the lowest municipal tax increase set in the last thirteen years.

In 2014 the City’s new logo “City of Possibilities” was launched and our new council believes that we must continue to focus on increasing opportunities and possibilities for businesses and citizens to invest into our community. City Council is responsible for helping to set the economic tone in our region and we believe that through focusing on our own operations we can be a leader in this regard. We believe that this council’s 2015 budget certainly reflects much of that.

Ensure Fiscal Responsibility

The City has taken numerous strides in streamlining processes through reviews and technological changes over the years. We see this as an on-going project and have dedicated $20,000 in this year’s budget to implement the Lean 6 Sigma program in the organization. More information will be made available when the program is launched.

Exploring how the wastewater treatment should be operated will take place this year to determine the most efficient and economical means in which to approach the nutrient removal project. This study is being cost-shared with 50% of the $250,000 being funded through Federal grants.
Keeping our information system up to date is also critical in delivering services and $74,625 in computer replacements and software updates are planned for 2015. Setting up a Wi-Fi system to enable streamline communications between city facilities is also planned at an estimated cost of $52,800.

The City is also introducing an apprentice program to develop water treatment plant operators. This will reduce the overtime experienced often at the Water Plant and build the supply of qualified operators within the Province.

Improve & expand community involvement & City interactions

Council feels that it is vitally important for this council to develop and support a long term community development plan that will help guide investment and priority projects now and into the future. $60,000 has been allocated to develop this strategic plan, which will include an environmental scan requiring significant consultation with the public, stakeholders and staff. It is also the intent of this plan to form part of the overarching plan for city related agencies such as PRED, Planning District, PCRC etc. to draw upon for their own strategic plans.

Citizens and stakeholders have raised concerns with our parking situation in the downtown core. As such, Council is committing to a full review, in 2015, of all parking in the downtown area from 5th St NE to 3rd St NW from Dufferin Ave to Lorne Avenue, which will involve input from various stakeholders including the downtown business core.

Foster a growing economy

City Council believes strongly in growing the City’s economic base and that more resources are needed in this area to provide more deliverables. The 2015 budget includes $160,000 for its share of the operating costs of the Portage Regional Economic Development agency with an additional $45,000 for special projects lead by PRED and $25,000 set aside for leverage funding if needed.

Other highlights of the budget have been segmented by function below.

Recreation

Parks – the City has been working with the Portage Community Revitalization Committee on developing North End parks and recreation options. The 2015 budget includes $270,000 for such upgrades which will be specified at a later time.
Paths – $175,000 is approved to improve the quality and safety on our pathways including $40,000 to pave the path in front of Aggasiz Youth Centre and $130,000 for path lighting along Fisher Avenue and the railways. There is $5,000 set aside to extend this pathway as well.
Crescent Lake is the jewel of the City that citizens take great pride in. It is enjoyed for its beauty and in order to maintain this beauty, the weeds in the lake need to be continually addressed. A study is taking place on the methods available to deal with it most effectively.

Grants
Important cultural services are delivered within our community and would not be possible without financial support from the City. The General budget also includes $580,919 in community grants – an increase of $52,100 from 2014. A complete listing of the grants is in the attached schedule.

Facility Improvements
In order to provide quality services our citizen expect and deserve, care and upkeep of the facilities that deliver essential services are required. The 2015 budget includes the following upgrades to city buildings and properties:

  • Fire Hall expansion – $1 Million
  • Fire Hall parking lot pavement – $92,000
  • Operations Building renovations & repairs- $50,000
  • Public Safety Building roof replacement – $120,000
  • Wastewater Treatment Facility office building repairs and renovations – $74,000

Infrastructure & Equipment
Bridge – $120,000 is included in the 2015 budget for engineers to design the replacement of the bridge to Island Park. The city will apply for 50% support from the Province through the Bridge Fund Program.
Park Drive – this project started in 2014 to prepare the road base and pathway. Paving and drainage is left for 2015 at a total estimate of $559,000 which includes $219,000 in funding from the Province and local improvement contributions.
CN Constant Warning Signs – The City is contributing up to $57,000 for its share of the upgrading the rail crossing on 3rd St NE and 8th St NW to improve the automation of the control gates to improve safety and reduce vehicle delay at the crossing.
Watermains & Sewermains– the existing Industrial Park watermain is deteriorating rapidly. The cost to design and install its replacement is estimated at approximately $1 Million. Other water and sewer main repairs and replacements throughout the city that will undertake in 2015 are estimated at $555,000.
Vehicles – 4 trucks are also being purchased of which one will be dedicated to the Engineer Division for the new GIS technician and the other 3 to replace old vehicles as part of the fleet replacement plan. A new dump truck to replace an old one is also required for the Utility at an estimated cost of $142,500.
The Water Treatment Plant needs to be upgraded to meet the compliance of water quality standards set by the Manitoba Office of Drinking Water. An engineering consultant must be hired to prepare the predesign and functional design of proposed upgrading to ensure the City meets trihalomethane (THM) limits, turbidity limits, and disinfection requirements. The assessment will also include measures to improve water hardness reduction. The full cost is estimated at $200,000 with 50% being funded from the Manitoba Water Services Board.

Environmental Care
Increased efforts in reducing the mosquito population in 2015 will be considered this year through the addition of natural mosquito control alternatives such as bats, purple martins and/or dragon flies.

A proper and accurate tree inventory of all boulevard and parks trees which are maintained by the City is essential to maintain a healthy and safe urban forest. This budget includes the task of recording specific data and geospatial coordinates for each tree.

A feasibility and implementation plan for organic waste collection plan is also included in the 2015 budget. The implementation plan would determine environmental licencing requirements, preferred mode and method of collection, program rates for single and multi-family dwellings, and promotional plan.

Conclusion
The budget document will be released on the City’s website for those wishing to see the standard operating budget totals and special expenditure items.

In total, the City’s 2015 budget of $34.5 Million, which represents a 1.7% increase in expenditures from our general operating fund over 2014, is made up of spending from:

TOTAL SPENDING BUDGET                            2015
General Operating Fund                                 17,233,689
Utility Operating Fund                                    10,533,232
Reserve Withdrawals                                        4,960,425
Spending from Capital Grants                         1,786,000
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa                      34,513,346

As the 2014 fiscal year is being closed, some additional items will be carried over to the 2015 budget. These will be outlined at the time the 2015 Financial Plan will be presented which can be expected in (March/April).

In summary, City Council approached this year’s budget with the objective to bring in a lesser tax increase than the previous year while addressing infrastructure and operating efficiencies. And I am proud to report we have done just that.

In conclusion, Your Worship, I move:

THAT the 2015 General budget and 2015 Utility budget be approved as follows:

TOTAL SPENDING BUDGET                            2015
General Operating Fund                                 17,233,689
Utility Operating Fund                                    10,533,232
Reserve Withdrawals                                        4,960,425
Spending from Capital Grants                         1,786,000
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa                      34,513,346

Schedules attached.

2015 Budget Speech – pdf

2015 Budget Listing – pdf

2015 Grants – pdf