Mission’s city council is moving forward with a $99 million budget in 2023 with an accompanying 5.12 per cent tax increase.
The City of Mission provided council the opportunity to discuss the city’s budget at a pair of freestanding committee of the whole meetings on Wednesday (Feb. 15) and Thursday (Feb. 16) afternoon.
New spending packages and potential service reductions were the primary concerns at the meetings, which lasted almost four and a half hours over the two days.
Wednesday’s meeting allowed for the bulk of questions and debate on various budget additions and cuts, while Thursday’s session focused on voting and provided answers to lingering questions from the previous day. Councillors Ken Herar and Danny Plecas were absent for Wednesday’s meeting.
The council voted 5-2 to cut the $50,000 public art budget for one year, with Councillors Jag Gill and Mark Davies opposed.
”It just literally makes no sense to me to keep $50,000 in the budget when we know that we’re likely to see a larger, more structured approach to how we deal with culture,” Mayor Paul Horn said. “I don’t think we have clarity around how this is to be used. I think this is painless, because we don’t have anything in the pipeline.”
Horn said cutting the public art budget for this year would provide the city more leeway to pursue larger spending packages in areas like firefighting.
Reductions to the training budgets for staff and council were also approved, while the remaining potential cuts did not move forward.
Staff training was reduced by just over $30,000 in a 5-2 vote with Plecas and Gill opposed. Meanwhile the council travel/convention budget was chopped down to $25,000 from $46,000 with a unanimous vote.
Several new spending packages with a tax impact moved forward unanimously, including the medical truck with four additional firefighters, a senior transport engineer, security analyst, electrician and a part-time admin clerk for film/tourism.
Other new positions moved on to the adoption stage with dissenting votes. The HR Advisor job to address increased demands passed 5-2 with Councillors Angel Elias and Herar opposed.
The tax impact of the new spending packages was diminished by accounting for the time needed to recruit for the positions. The cost for the new positions in 2023 was reduced by 58 per cent for each new role by assuming June 1 start dates.
Herar was also the lone vote against the additions of an asset management technician, planning assistant and rapid damage assessment training for staff.
The final step in the budget process will be the vote for adoption at the March 6 council meeting.
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