Cranbrook city hall. Townsman file photo.

Council, staff kick off annual budget dicussions

Departments pitch five-year work plans as staff, council debate financial priorities

The City of Cranbrook is proposing a 2.48 per cent tax levy increase for 2021 following preliminary budget discussions between staff and council this past week at city hall.

The proposed levy includes an annual one per cent dedicated road improvement tax, while the other 1.48 per cent is attributed to a general increase, as well as hiring a new staff position and increased spending for economic development initiatives.

The discussions included departmental five-year work plans and projected budgets, all of which will be rolled into the city’s annual budget — a five-year financial forecast that will be debated and finalized in the coming months.

The discussions occurred over two days, starting with departmental presentations and budgets, before moving into the overall corporate financial situation, including operating revenues and expenses, capital spending and surplus and reserve balances.

By provincial law, municipalities are not permitted to run a deficit.

The COVID-19 pandemic was a common thread throughout the discussions, however, financial impacts from the pandemic have yet to be fully felt. The city has received roughly $3.7 million from the provincial and federal governments through the Union of British Columbia Municipalities, which can be used to offset COVID-related expenses.

Staff also signaled an intent to revisit the city’s strategic plan to see if any adjustments need to be made in response to the effects of the pandemic.