Rebudgeting, resurfacing and transit grants were on the docket at Whitehorse City Hall on March 15. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)

Rebudgeting, resurfacing and transit grants were on the docket at Whitehorse City Hall on March 15. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)

This week at city hall

A look at what was discussed by Whitehorse city council at its March 15 meeting.

Rebudgeting recommended

Close to $33 million could soon be moved to the city’s 2021 capital budget as Whitehorse city council considers projects rebudgeted from 2020.

Brittany Dixon, the city’s acting manager of financial services, brought forward the recommendation that council move ahead with a bylaw for the rebudget at its March 15 meeting.

Typically there are a number of capital projects that don’t proceed or get completed in a typical year. They may be moved into the budget for the following year.

In 2020, for example, a total of $24.2 million was rebudgeted from 2019 for various projects.

As Dixon explained to council, many projects last year were delayed due to COVID-19. The global pandemic resulted in a lack of contractors and consultants due to availability, travel restrictions, staffing issues and low tender submissions as well as supply chain issues for certain materials and longer delivery times. There were also impacts on city staff capacity that came with distancing and other safety requirements, recruitment difficulty and delays in preparing tenders.

Other challenges around the pandemic included the revamp of public consultation processes to meet restrictions and adapting to working with consultants from a distance.

Dixon also highlighted reasons outside of COVID-19 for some budget items being shifted from the 2020 year to 2021, noting that in some cases multi-year projects are budgeted in the first year in order to award the contract with funding then moved out to subsequent years, and that goods were ordered but not received prior before the end of the year.

“It is anticipated that, if approved, most of the rebudgeted projects will be completed in 2021,” Dixon said.

Council will vote March 22 whether to move forward with the bylaw for the rebudget.

City gets set to update tax lien list

Any Whitehorse property owners with outstanding property tax bills may want to settle those debts in the coming week before Whitehorse city council votes on whether to sign off on its annual tax lien list.

The list is published annually detailing any outstanding amounts of property taxes, interest and penalties owing.

At council’s March 15 meeting, Brittany Dixon, the city’s acting manager of financial services, brought forward the proposed 2020 list with a recommendation that the city seal be affixed to it and the list published.

It includes a total of 33 properties where tax amounts are owed ranging from $111.10 to $5,004 for a total of $65,418.

That compares to $166,798 that was owed in 2019 for 65 properties.

“It is expected that the reduction in the number of properties between prior year and current year is due to the extended tax deadline,” Dixon said.

Taxes for 2020 were due Sept. 2 (an extension from the usual July 2 date due to COVID-19) with a 10 per cent late penalty thereafter.

“Letters were sent to property owners five times between Sept. 29 and Feb. 11,” Dixon said, adding that further letters are also planned to be sent out in April and May.

“Each property on this list will be levied an administration fee and will be subject to further collection procedures if the account is not paid within 60 days,” Dixon said.

“Those steps include initial application for title to the property after 12 months and final application for title to the mediation board after a further six months.”

If taxes are owed after that, the title would be transferred to the city. If the city has no use for the property, it would then be sold at market value with any surplus after taxes are paid returned to the former owner.

Council will vote March 22 whether to make the list official. The list would be updated before it is published to ensure it reflects only those with amounts owing.

Transit pass grant considered

Safe At Home is asking the City of Whitehorse for 250 bus tickets as it, and other community partners, get set for the next Point in Time count on April 13 and 14.

The proposal was brought forward at Whitehorse city council’s March 15 meeting.

The count is used to determine the extent of homelessness in the community at a single point in time.

During the count, trained volunteers will be in the community, at the emergency shelter and at service organizations to count and survey those who may be experiencing homelessness.

“These counts support better understanding, planning and also allow community organizations and governments to assess their progress in reducing homelessness,” Jeff O’Farrell, the city’s manager of community and recreation services, stated in a report to council.

Safe At Home is asking for the 250 bus tickets to be provided as an incentive for people to take part in the survey as well as a tool for volunteers to connect with individuals.

O’Farrell pointed out the city is a partner in the Safe At Home plan. While council can’t waive fees, it can provide a grant for the tickets through the council donation account.

“Council could view this as a nominal cost for the city, as a partner, to contribute to the Safe At Home involvement in the (Point in Time) count,” O’Farrell said.

The grant for the tickets would total $575.

Council will vote on the donation March 22.

Surfacing work considered

Roads in Mary Lake could get a makeover this year as the City of Whitehorse considers moving ahead with releasing the tender for the work.

At Whitehorse city council’s March 15 meeting, Michael Abbott, the city’s associate manager for engineering services, brought forward a recommendation that council authorize administration to go ahead with the procurement for the work.

Council must first authorize procurement to go ahead on any contracts anticipated to be worth over $500,000, as is the case for this project.

It would see a number of streets or sections of road resurfaced in the neighbourhood.

The city typically conducts a rural road-resurfacing project each year in different, usually rural, subdivisions with Mary Lake being the focus of the 2021 initiative.

If council approves the procurement at its March 22 meeting, the tender would be issued April 1 with the contract to be awarded by May 15. The work would begin June 15 with an expected completion date of July 31.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

City Hall

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