Only about a dozen residents came to Sechelt’s public budget presentation at the Seaside Centre on Dec. 3, and most seemed content with what they saw.
Sechelt is looking at a draft budget that would absorb inflationary increases, allow for some one-time expenditures from reserves, create service level enhancements and keep taxes at current levels.
On Tuesday night residents were shown a draft operating budget of about $13.9 million and a capital budget of about $20.9 million for Sechelt in 2014.
The operating budget is up about $36,000 from last year while capital expenditures have almost doubled.
The main reason for the large jump on the capital side is the $15.8 million Sechelt will have to pay for the new wastewater treatment plant in 2014, chief of innovation and growth Ron Buchhorn said.
He showed residents highlights of the draft budget, including “key projects” like the plans to beautify the downtown area and the roundabout proposed for Dolphin and Trail. The roundabout, which would cost nearly $700,000, was quickly dismissed by one resident who was completely against the plan.
Buchhorn noted the roundabout was just an idea to beautify the area and that it wasn’t a done deal. “If you folks don’t want one, you’re not getting one. It’s that simple,” he said.
He went over some big-ticket items like the $332,000 RCMP and Justice Services facility upgrades needed next year and the new parks and public works building estimated to cost $1 million.
No one raised issue with the projects, but one line item stood out for some in attendance — the structural deficit Sechelt carries from year to year.
Chief financial officer Victor Mema explained that under the new accounting rules municipalities must account for the depreciation of their buildings and while they don’t have to fund it, they must show it in the budget.
Sechelt’s structural deficit for 2014 is estimated at about $2.7 million.
Mema said that deciding how to fund the structural deficit is a new problem all municipalities in B.C. are now facing.
“This council, through the finance advisory committee, is already looking at ‘now we’ve isolated the amount, so how do we deal with this?’” Mema said.