Burns Lake council discussed several options to address a $41,243 budget deficit during last week’s budget meeting.
During a previous budget meeting – on Feb. 2 -, the village’s deficit grew while accounting for a proposed two per cent decrease to business tax rate and an increase in paving funds from $145,000 to $160,000; and then shrank with the removal items from the budget such as the spay/neuter clinics, and increasing fees for non-village resident users of the Lakeside Multiplex.
At the end of the Feb. 2 meeting, council asked village staff to compile possible scenarios to further reduce the deficit. These scenarios were presented during the Feb. 16 budget meeting.
One option included a 5.35 per cent tax rate increase to all property classes except business.
Councillor John Illes proposed altering this option by removing the originally prosed two per cent tax rate decrease to businesses and lowering the 5.35 per cent increase to a two per cent increase (for all classes except business).
Councillor Kelly Holliday proposed upholding the two per cent decrease for businesses and increasing Lakeside Multiplex user rates for village residents by 25 per cent.
Councillor Chris Beach addressed Holliday’s proposal during the discussion.
“I thought we discussed that it was an issue of fairness, that village residents were baring the greater burden with the multiplex; I think this would go against the decision we already made,” said Beach.
Holliday clarified that she felt that the village was already approaching the regional district for a number of funding options for projects.
“I was thinking it would be a little more fair [to increase Lakeside Multiplex user rates for village residents] so it doesn’t feel like we’re charging the regional district; maybe it would be more comfortable if we looked at raising the (multiplex user) fees for village users as well.”
Councillors also discussed removing additional smaller items from this year’s budget, including the installation of cameras in Spirit Square and replacing Christmas lights with LED’s.
Another option for reducing the deficit included funding from the village’s reserves, budgeted for the construction of a new columbarium, as using that funding would help free up to $25,000 to reduce the deficit.
The discussion came to a close with a suggestion from councillor Susan Schienbein that village staff prepare additional scenarios to reduce the deficit before a decision is made.
The additional scenarios will be presented at the next budget meeting, which is scheduled to take place on March 7, 2016.