During a budget meeting on Jan. 11, 2016, village staff presented the Burns Lake council with a balanced budget with a zero per cent tax rate increase.
One of the issues discussed during the meeting was the project to repave a two-block portion of Centre Avenue and all of Eighth Avenue in Burns Lake.
Last year the municipality applied to the federal government’s strategic priorities fund for $2.8 million to undertake phase one of the proposed project. Village staff was expecting to hear if the grant application was approved by last fall, but they still haven’t heard if the application was successful.
Village staff is now being told they will hear if the application was approved by the end of the month.
Councillor John Illes asked staff to investigate how much it would cost to maintain the road bit by bit until the grant came through.
Rick Martin, Director of Public Works, explained that if the village repaved a small piece of Eighth Avenue now, there could be a fairly drivable surface for five to 10 years, but if a water main erupted or if the grant was later approved, the money spent would have been wasted.
Another issue discussed during the meeting was the rising costs of the Lakeside Multiplex.
Village staff proposed one option to offset costs – installing a Freon chilling plant, which would result in wage savings of $60,000 per year. The Freon plant would eliminate two seasonal positions. With the current chilling system in the arena, the village must ensure there is an employee with refrigeration based safety awareness on site when the Lakeside Multiplex is open.
“Right now we have someone on staff when no one is even in the arena, just because there’s people in the building,” explained staff.
Councilor Chris Beach said he supports the installation of the Freon chilling plant.
“I would support moving ahead with this and start saving that $60,000 a year,” he said. “Also you know if there’s extra staff around, sometimes you do hear from the public that there’s too many staff.”
Village staff explained that only one out of two grants submitted to purchase and install the Freon plant had been accepted, which meant that the rest of the cost would have to be covered by the village.
Staff offered a number of options to cover the remaining cost including approaching the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako, borrowing $225,000 from its own reserves, or applying for a short-term loan from the municipal finance association.
Village staff was directed to gather further information in regards to the issues discussed so that councilors would be able to make their final decisions at the next budget meeting.
The next budget meeting will take place on Jan. 25, 2016, at 6 p.m. at the village office. Meetings are open to the public and agendas and meeting minutes are available at http://portal.burnslake.ca/