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Ladysmith Council met virtually for a Special Meeting followed by a Committee of the Whole Meeting on Tuesday, November 10, with the second budget workshop among the agenda highlights.
During the Special Meeting of Council, staff presented the proposed Water and Sewer utility rates for 2021 during the budget discussion.
The Town bills property owners quarterly for Water, Sewer and Garbage and these user fees cover many of the day-to-day operating expenses for delivering these services.
The draft utilities budget recommends an increase of 3 per cent for Water rates, or $3.66 quarterly for a single family using 90m3, and no proposed change to the Sewer rates. The fee charged for solid waste is expected to remain unchanged for next year.
The increase to Water rates is due to inflationary operating costs and factoring in a recent decrease in annual consumption by property owners. You can review the budget slideshow here on the Town's website.
Council is holding its next budget workshop on November 17, 2020, at 7 pm to finalize the Water and Sewer rates and introduce the capital budget.
The Special Meeting of Council adjourned following the budget discussion and Council reconvened as the Committee of the Whole.
In light of the new recent Council appointments, Councillor McKay takes over from Councillor Virtanen as Chair of the Committee of the Whole.
During the CoW meeting, staff demonstrated the Town's new Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping software and its many capabilities and benefits.
Development Services and Infrastructure Services staff are using the tool to quickly access relevant property information and review the location of underground services, such as water mains. Among the many positive operational benefits, GIS enables the Town to gather and visually analyze relevant data for effectively managing our infrastructure assets
Implementing GIS also makes progress on Council’s strategic priorities in the area of Infrastructure.
Next, the Committee received the financial update for the third quarter, July to September 2020.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect the Town's day-to-day operations, however additional revenues in some departments is offsetting revenue losses in others.
The Town is anticipating a surplus at the end of the year, in part due to savings in municipal payments for the RCMP, as well as cost savings from the postponed annual Spring Clean-Up and recycling initiatives. Additionally, there are unexecuted debt payments for water supply projects contingent upon the receipt of federal grant funding.
The Committee also received several other reports, including: the Building Inspector's Report (July to September 2020), Ladysmith Fire/Rescue Reports (July to October 2020), Coastal Animal Control Services Reports (May to July 2020), RCMP Reports for the first three quarters and Bylaw Compliance Statistics (January to June 2020).
Moving on in the CoW agenda, Councillor Virtanen requested the Committee discuss the Town's role in encouraging the public to find alternatives to single use plastics.
The Committee approved a motion recommending that Council direct staff to prepare a report regarding bans on single use plastics.
Council meets next on Tuesday, November 17, 2020, for a regular meeting and the third budget workshop.
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