Nelson’s chief financial officer says he’s “very comfortable” with the budget and the five year outlook for the city.
Colin McClure spoke with Vista Radio shortly after city council finalized the 2022 budget yesterday afternoon which will see a 4 per cent tax increase. It will mean an extra $68 on a so-called “average home” valued at $636,000.
Looking back on the “long process” that started in October with examining hydro, water, sewer and garbage, McClure says those utilities are in a “good healthy space,” especially with planning for a future $30 million sewage treatment plant.
“The fact we’ve built up the reserves, especially in the utilities…to be a place where if we’re going add a $30 million STP plant – now that will take a long time to build but – we’re only looking at inflationary increases, that speaks to the planning that we’ve done,” McClure said.
The average home will pay $7 more for water this year, $10 more for sewer and $25 more for resource recovery.
McClure admits the budget was tougher dealing with a lot of unknowns about pandemic-era revenue from camping and parking meters, plus inflationary pressure.
One of the big costs in the budget was around $150,000 to hire a deputy chief for the Nelson Police Department. “About 1.5 of that 4 per cent (increase) is dealing with a deputy police chief and we think that is has value and that’s why council was willing to add that but knowing there would be a need for taxes to go up.”
McClure notes that after a 2 per cent tax increase in 2019, zero in 2020 and 1.75 per cent in 2021, the sub-inflationary increases would “culminate” with the 4 per cent this year. This year’s increase makes the four year average 1.94 per cent.
As for the city’s “very ambitious” $23 million capital budget, McClure believes the corporation can tackle about 70 per cent of its list even though a third of the year is already gone.
One of those will be the $3 million Hall Street Pier and Ladybird project, which will take seven months to complete. A water pumping station and hydro projects are already underway.
McClure felt it was unlikely the $10 million, multi-year, deep energy retrofit and revitalization for the Civic Center will proceed this year, which is reliant on senior government funding. The city hasn’t heard about the status of its grant application.
This is McClure’s final budget before he leaves to take a similar job with the City of Trail.
He is “very comfortable” with the budget and five year financial plan, believes ratepayers are getting good value for their tax dollars and that the city will be in good hands with incoming CFO Chris Jury.