Ladysmith councillors and staff began delving into the budget process on April 13.
Water and sewer projects were first on the block to be discussed.
The meeting started with city manager Ruth Malli talking about the tax process, noting the town has usually taken a pay-as-you-go approach of saving and paying cash for projects instead of borrowing.
Councillors heard that Ladysmith residents qualify for the Northern & Rural Homeowner Benefit, a grant of $200.
Mayor Rob Hutchins said this could potentially be an excellent opportunity for the town to push ahead with funding for some of its capital projects and with no impact to taxpayers.
This of course all depends on the taxes that need to be collected by Provincial School Tax Administration School District 68 and those figures are not expected until May 4.
This, noted Malli, creates a tight time line in trying to get the town’s financial plan approved.
Other implications for the final budget include: the Cowichan Valley Regional District, which will be collecting $681,097.95, a 10 per cent increase; the hospital which will be collecting $370,861.44, a 29 per cent increase; the BCAA which is collecting one per cent less at $86,313.88; and the MFA which will be collecting $255.52.
By legislation, the Town of Ladysmith must include these levies on their property tax bill but pays all the money directly over to the other agencies.
The public is encouraged to attend the budget meetings or attend any other open door meeting to discuss budget opportunities with council.
Council was also told the water and sewer parcel tax are $70 and $94 respectively. Those figures have not been altered for nearly 10 years, although they are reviewed annually.
The tax documents also pointed out residential homes in the area saw a 4.8 per cent increase in assessments for 2011, jumping to $307,701 for the average single family home.
The town first went through sewer projects, noting the majority of the projects on tap can be paid for using the projected operations fund of $454,636.
They include Stage 3 of the Liquid Waste Management Plan for $20,000 and sewer service for Ladysmith Maritime Society for $17,000. The town is still waiting on word about a grant to help with the $4.5 million price tag for adding secondary service for the sewage treatment facility.
In the 2011 provisional budget, sewage user fees will be bring in $614,000 and the parcel tax will generate $325,000. Other sewer revenues will equal $10,222 for a total of $949,222.
Total expenses including staff salaries and contractors equal $494,586.
The water portion of the budget has been sent back to staff to try look at the projects.
There are too many to pay for out of the operating budget and council will have to decide what to pay for now and what can be deferred.
Some of the projects on the radar include the Holland Creek Crossing for $176,000. Public Works Director Joe Friesenhan, said the project is a must as the pipe is exposed and the town’s water supply could be lost if the pipe breaks. A temporary repair done in 2010 has already been lost. A detailed design has been completed and permits obtained.
The work must be done between July and September.
The pipeline from the south end to Arbutus reservoir is slated to cost around $1,388,545. Work needs to be done between August 31, 2011 and March 31, 2012, but it would not be brought online until after they get news of a $375,000 grant to help install a hydro energy recovery station that would replace any need to reduce water pressure in the pipe.
The recovery project is expected to cost $941,000.
Public works is seeking $706,000 for a new centralized treatment plant as part of the pipeline project and it also needs to be completed by March 21, 2012. It will eliminate the need for a south end chlorinator and is the first step to achieve ultra violet treatment. An additional $200,000 is needed to get power to the plant.
Testing of the Cassidy aquifer is also on the list as a potential source for drinking water for the town.
The price tag is sitting at $190,700 and the town has already authorized hiring a land agent and some work has already been done.
Stocking Lake Dam is leaking and in need of repairs to the tune of $200,000.
The CVRD has agreed to pick up half the tab.
A pipeline from Holland Lake to Stocking Lake is pegged at $29,250, but the process is still in the permit stage.
Water and a new hydrant at the community marina is budgeted at $35,000.
Continuation of the low-flow toilet rebate would cost $15,000.
Redoing and improving the culvert near the golf course would help create a lake that could serve as irrigation for both the course and Holland Creek ball fields. It is expected to cost $35,000 but could cost more depending on Department of Fisheries and Oceans requirements.
Replacing and upsizing the asbestos cement pipe on Symonds from Second to Fourth is set to cost $250,000.
In total, water projects reach $4,166,495.
In the 2011 provisional budget, water user fees collected will equal $668,000, the parcel tax will bring in $242,000 and other revenues will produce $6,100 for a total of $916,100 in revenue.
Expenses including equipment, materials, supplies and wages equal $459,318 making the water operating fund $456,782.
The next budget meeting will be held on Tuesday, April 26 if needed.