Is there such thing as a budget that's too lean? Chilliwack is proposing a 1.49 tax rate increase for 2015.

Lean Chilliwack budget has one councillor questioning priorities

City budget for 2015 ready to receive input from the public between now and the public info meeting at city hall on March 17

Chilliwack is planning an exceptionally lean budget for 2015, but at least one city councillor expressed discomfort with some of its priorities.

The 2015 financial plan is the leanest budget in almost 20 years with a proposed 1.49 tax rate increase — which will mean about $23 in taxes on a typical Chilliwack home.

Several city councillors praised the continued fiscal restraint at the Tuesday meeting discussion, as well as welcoming the strong boost to public safety.

The budget includes the hiring of two extra RCMP officers, two firefighters and a trainer, along with one more bylaw enforcement officer in Chilliwack.

Road repairs will roll out to the tune of $12.6 million over four years.

Construction will start soon on the Rail Trail with a pedestrian link as well as park improvements, and replacing storm drain culverts.

But Coun. Sam Waddington said he felt compelled to vote against the 2015 financial plan bylaw in the end.

He tried to get the bylaw withdrawn on Tuesday afternoon, but the motion to reconsider failed when it couldn’t get a seconder to support the idea.

“I don’t mean to throw wet blanket on the parade,” he said. “I know staff worked hard.”

Coun. Waddington questioned the expenditure of $6.5 million on replacing the local curling rink in 2018, and made a comparison using the idea of building a “rock gym” for climbers, suggesting there may be the same level of support in each community.

“It’s a lot of money for a private club,” he noted about curling, adding that there were a handful of things he would like to see more “scrutiny” on in terms of city spending.

He also questioned the cost and advisability of renovating the existing city hall building as opposed to moving it downtown.

“I’m all for not paying high taxes, but personally I don’t take pride in being at the bottom,” Waddington stated about the tax rate rankings in the Lower Mainland.

He like to see certain projects funded and the only way to do that is to tax “appropriately,”  as with the 2.49 tax rate of last year.

The low tax rate of 1.49 per cent for 2015, and business multiplier of 2.2 per cent makes Chilliwack the Lower Mainland community with the lowest tax rates of all 19 municipalities.

Introduction and three readings of 2015 financial plan were approved at Tuesday’s council meeting, with Waddington as the only one voting against. An information hearing on the financial plan and budget is set for March 17 in council chambers.

Mayor Sharon Gaetz said the fiscally responsible budget will hold Chilliwack “in good stead,” and she appreciated that they took the pragmatic approach to more support for public safety in Chilliwack.

“I am most excited about the Rail Trail,” she added.

On the subject of the Curling Rink replacement the plan is to put funds aside for it over the next three years, said staff.

Council could opt to change those priorities “at the end of this year,” said Mayor Gaetz.

She added she would be remiss if she didn’t mention that the budget items come from priorities, “ones our community has put forward, and ones they want to see rectified, like the money for tennis courts.

“These are not necessarily council’s pet projects. They come forward with a lot of consultation.”

Gaetz tried to refocus the discussion about city hall, adding the plan was to remodel the 1959 building, not get a new one.

“You may want to have the discussion about building it in the downtown,” Gaetz said, and recommended he bring it forward at the budget meeting on March 17.

But Waddington sought to clarify his intent after the meeting.

“I believe there wasn’t enough consultation on such a major budgetary issue such as our plans for city hall,” he told The Progress.

Whether renovating or going with an entirely new location, it’s a major civic decision.

The whole issue needed more discussion time with “valuable economic partners” such as CEPCO, the BIA and the Chamber of Commerce, Waddington said.

“I believe that discussion has been swept under the rug,” he said.

The first budget of a new council is the ideal time “to blow the lid off the status quo,” Waddington remarked. “The discussion should be about what are our priorities and where do we go from here.”

Introduction and three readings of 2015 financial plan were approved at Tuesday’s council meeting, with Waddington as the only councillor to vote against second and third reading. A public information hearing on the financial plan and budget is set for March 17 at 7 p.m. in council chambers.

Just Posted

PHOTO: Rain in the forecast Sunday, sun expected by Tuesday in Chilliwack

Chilliwack has been treated to fairly warm and dry weather over the past two weeks

PHOTOS: Hand-made creations galore at Chilliwack Christmas Craft Market

The 45th annual event features 180 vendors and is a fundraiser for the Chilliwack Community Arts Council

Warrant issued for Chilliwack prolific offender

Do not attempt to apprehend David Allen Geoghegan, 29, police caution

Chilliwack family’s dog missing after using online pet-sitting service

Frankie the pit bull bolted and hit by a car shortly after drop off through

VIDEO: New supportive housing in Chilliwack almost ready to welcome residents

Grand opening Friday saw dignitaries join with health, policing, and housing reps on Trethewey

VIDEO: B.C. couple creates three-storey ‘doggie mansion’ for their five pups

Group of seven, who Kylee Ryan has dubbed as the ‘wandering paws,’ have a neat setup in Jade City

MacKinnon powers Avs to 5-4 OT win over Canucks

Vancouver battled back late to pick up single point

Paul Bissonnette joins Vancouver Warriors after tweeting he could walk on to an NLL club

Bissonnette will join the Warriors for their final week of training camp at Rogers Arena

Port Alberni mom takes school district to court over Indigenous smudging, prayer in class

Candice Servatius, who is an evangelical Christian, is suing School District 70

Body found after SUV found fully engulfed in flames in Abbotsford field

The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team have been called in

Family of B.C. man killed in hit-and-run plead for tips, one year later

Cameron Kerr’s family says the driver and passengers tried to cover their tracks

Princeton couple pays for dream vacation with 840,000 grocery store points

It’s easy if you know what you are doing, they say

B.C. wildlife experts urge hunters to switch ammo to stop lead poisoning in birds

OWL, in Delta, is currently treating two eagles for lead poisoning

Most Read