$89k municipal deficit projected

District dips into the red with budget review, but still confident books can be balanced by year's end.

The district is projecting an $89,000 deficit for fiscal 2011, with staff recommending that no new non-budgeted projects be undertaken for the balance of the year.

Coun. Mike Scudder welcomed the report warmly, saying that staff is running a conservative budget that he expects will probably wind up balanced, if not in surplus by year’s end.

The financial breakdowns show a variety of departments in both red and black ink, with some money being socked away in reserve funds.

Those departments running a deficit include corporate administration, due to increased legal costs ($71,500); the controversial Public Safety Inspection Team currently on deferral ($23,893); recreation services, primarily due to increased hydro costs to run the Leisure Centre ($40,990); engineering, owing to lower than expected inspection fees ($66,882); public works, from increased snow removal costs ($198,711); public transit, owing to a new agreement with West Coast Express ($154,919); WorkSafe injury claims ($292,350); and taxation due to assessment appeals with the province ($95,696).

As for departments running a surplus, those of significance include finance ($26,566); police and fire services ($422,453); inspection services, due to increased building permit revenue ($92,658); planning, due to increased development in the district ($65,433); recreation administration ($68,050); parks ($24,920); and general government, due to higher interest on investments ($147,455).

The published financial forecasts are current up to Sept. 22.

MASH requests DCC break

The non-profit charity Mission Association for Seniors Housing (MASH) has asked council to review development cost charges (DCCs) levied by the district on new construction of affordable housing.

Currently, MASH is set to build a 42-unit facility at Cherry Avenue and Cedar Street, but the DCCs are in the order of $550,494. Since MASH builds affordable housing units for seniors at an at-cost basis, this increases each unit by $13,107.

Although council is unable by law to grant DCC exemptions, it has in the past made donations to charitable organizations to allow them to recover some or all of the DCCs.

But Coun. Paul Horn cautioned against council’s proclivity, pointing out DCCs pay for mandatory infrastructure, such as water and sewers, that will be used by the development regardless of its purpose.

Council voted to have staff bring back a report on options to increase support for social housing without having to consider underfunding DCCs.