Mission will consider cutting services to reduce the city’s tax increase, including the $50,000 public art budget.
At a comittee of the whole meeting, on Nov. 15, 2022, city staff was aked to provide various scenarios that could reduce the required tax increase by one per cent which would amount to an approximate $400,000 reduction. Each department director was asked to identify cuts or reductions that could be considered by council.
A list of potential service level reductions was provided in a closed council meeting on Jan. 9 and staff cuts would be required to accommodate many of the proposed reductions. Council considered both staff and service cuts but chose not to make any changes that would result in staff reductions.
The cuts could include a $17,644 reduction in the Community Grant Program, the elimination of the public art budget of $50,000, reduction of professional development budgets, reduction of the council convention budget of $46,000 and closing the Mission Leisure Centre on Canada Day and Boxing Day,
If the public art budget is cut, the city could choose to reinstate it in 2024 with a tax increase of approximately 0.13 per cent. The reduction in the grant program is due to an unallocated amount of $17,644 after passing over $340,000 in funding for 2023 back in December.
“The service level reductions listed in this report are likely contrary to many of the strategic goals of council but may be necessary to address the cost increases anticipated,” the report read.
Council is also considering changes to the proposed tax increase for capital. The council previously committed to increasing property taxes by one per cent each year from 2023 to 2027 to ensure sufficient funds for the repair, refurbishment or replacement of the city’s assets. There is a choice to either decrease or eliminate the addition in 2023 but city staff would need to investigate what projects to defer if the funding disappears.
“Although staff do not actually recommend that the City implement any of the service level reductions provided, staff do acknowledge that the current property tax increase required to maintain the existing levels of service may pose challenges for some of the City’s taxpayers,” the report stated.
At Monday’s (Jan. 23) council meeting, the councillors refrained from detailed debate on the cuts in question, choosing to hold off until the public has their say.
“I just want to make sure that the community does come out and actually have a say in regards to this,” Councillor Angel Elias said. “Sometimes this gets overlooked by the community and it would be a shame because there’s a lot of this that I do not agree with. I’m not in favour of a lot of it.”
The council is seeking public feedback on the cuts with a survey on the city’s website. The city also held a public forum on Wednesday (Jan. 25) to receive feedback before decisions are made.
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