Council holds off on passing 2013 budget

Had the motion not been deferred, a motion to give the financial plan first, second and third readings likely would have been defeated

City council has delayed approving the city’s financial plan, which includes a 3.91 per cent residential tax increase for 2013.

A special council meeting was held Tuesday to give first three readings to the city’s 2013-2017 financial plan but the readings never happened.

Coun. Claire Moglove made a motion – which was passed unanimously by council – to hold off on endorsing the plan.

Moglove said she “made the motion to defer because Coun. (Andy) Adams, who is the chair of the finance committee and who has the finance portfolio,” was not at the meeting.

Mayor Walter Jakeway said had the motion not been deferred, a motion to give the financial plan first, second and third readings likely would have been defeated.

When council approved the budget Jan. 29, it passed by a 4-3 margin.

Adams was one of the four who voted in favour so without his vote on Tuesday, the financial plan readings likely would have gone to a 3-3 vote. A motion is defeated in the event of a tie.

Jakeway said going into Tuesday’s meeting “three were ready to defeat it.”

The three who voted in opposition to budget decisions in January were Jakeway, and councillors Larry Samson and Ron Kerr.

Samson wanted council to reduce the tax increase to 2.91 per cent by funding the extra one per cent with the city’s gaming reserve while Jakeway wanted more cuts, particularly to staffing levels at city hall.

Jakeway said on Wednesday that while he’s “not happy with the result” he’s glad the budget was completed early in the year and that council worked well together in forming the budget.

“It’s never been sent to Victoria this early,” said Jakeway of the budget. “I would like to see the whole thing done by the end of December (for 2014) so staff has a whole year to implement it. We’re close.”

Jakeway had been advocating last year for the 2013 budget to be formed by the start of the year.

George Cuff, a consultant hired by the city to analyze the workings of city hall and council, recommended city budgets be wrapped up by the end of December for the upcoming budget year.

As it stands now, the financial plan will be up for first three readings on this Tuesday night’s council meeting agenda.