The city finances are back in the black.
That means that the planned four per cent property tax increase may not be a foregone conclusion.
The city has directed administration to rewrite the three-year budget forecast with a smaller tax increase in mind.
This week administration reported a $14,000 surplus for the third quarter.
That’s a big change from the more than $800,000 budget deficit that the city was facing only a few months ago.
To get the city back in the black, council enacted a series of cost-saving austerity measures.
New hires were put on hold, overtime was heavily scrutinized and several infrastructure projects were put off till next year.
That allowed the city to transfer funds from general reserves to come up with the surplus, said finance manager Valerie Anderson.
Those cuts were a one-time only fix, not something that is sustainable in the long term, said Anderson.
When she presented the numbers to council on Monday Coun. Dave Stockdale floated the idea of using some of the reserve money to off set the planned tax increase.
“I think we could put this money to better use than sinking it into reserves,” said Stockdale.
That idea had some support on council.
“If we can find any way to reduce taxes you have my nod on that,” said Kirk Cameron.
However administration was less enthused by the suggestion.
“It’s an option, but not something I would recommend,” said Anderson “It’s not sustainable and it would end up depleting the reserves.”
She also pointed out that if council chose not to replenish the reserves it would take a bylaw change.
The 2012 capital budget is scheduled for a first reading at Monday’s city council meeting.
Contact Josh Kerr at firstname.lastname@example.org