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Council sets the stage for difficult budget talks

Last week’s city council meeting offered insight into next year’s 2023 budget talks, when a bright spotlight is anticipated to shine on any additional spending
Tom Davies Square.

Two city council newcomers pushed back against additional spending during last week’s city council meeting, setting the stage for next year’s difficult budget talks.

On the table were 36 business cases totalling $7.78 million in 2023 tax levy impacts, though some carried no tax impacts and in some cases would generate revenue.

There are also eight budget reduction initiatives proposed to pare down the city’s budget, including a reduction of GOVA Transit service levels.

Following a lengthy debate during last week’s meeting, city council unanimously opted to defer debate on all of these proposals to next year’s budget deliberations, set to take place beginning in mid February.

Both Ward 5 Coun. Mike Parent and Ward 4 Coun. Pauline Fortin pushed back against the business cases during the meeting, with Parent asserting now is the time to “Step back, take a pause and take a hard look at how we’re spending taxpayers’ money.”

“Maybe it’s time we stopped and had a conversation about (the city’s 58) lines of services before we enter the budget discussions in early 2023.”

Fortin pushed for “Fiscal responsibility and common-sense spending that for all too long has seemed to be missing.”

“We all know that we can’t afford what we have now, let alone what we want,” she later said, adding that when it comes to the business cases, “I’m a no on all this at this time.”

Ward 3 Coun. Gerry Montpellier similarly stated that it’s difficult to make decisions until they know where the city stands, financially.

Complicating matters is the fact the city needs to cut $17.7 million from the status quo budget in order to hit the 3.7-per-cent maximum tax increase the previous city council gave direction for city administration to pursue. The business cases up for debate are outside of the status quo budget, and would impact the tax levy further.

Although some councillors’ statements cast many of the business cases into uncertainty, not all business cases would drive up the tax increase.

One example is the two automated speed enforcement cameras the city proposed to install next year, which they anticipate to generate more than $43,000 in net revenue in 2023 if they are operational by September.

It’s proposed the two mobile automated speed enforcement cameras be distributed throughout the city on three-month intervals.

The cameras “use radar to determine the speed of a vehicle and if a vehicle is travelling above the posted speed limit, the (automated speed enforcement) unit will record the speed the vehicle was travelling at and take a picture of the rear of the vehicle,” according to the business case document.

“Images are reviewed by Provincial Offences Officers and then tickets are issued to the owner of the vehicle regardless of who was driving. Upon conviction, the only penalty is a fine – no demerit points will be issued nor will the registered owners’ driving record be impacted.

The same process has been used for the city’s six red light cameras installed in September, which exclusively ticket motorists for running red lights. 

Ward 1 Coun. Mark Signoretti indicated during last week’s meeting that he would push during next year’s budget deliberations for the city to deploy additional automated speed cameras.

The initial round of public consultation for the 2023 budget wrapped up on Tuesday, with a second round expected after city administration tables their proposed budget on Jan. 17. 

It’s this proposed budget, adhering to city council’s requested 3.7 per cent tax increase, that city council will debate alongside business cases during deliberations beginning in mid-February.

A final 2023 operating and capital budget is expected to be approved on March 7, followed by approval of a property tax policy on May 16.

Although he wants to see the city take a deeper dive into the status quo budget, Parent told that he plans on going through the regular process this time around to see how it works. 

Reflecting on last week’s meeting, he said this week that he’s unlikely to get enough city council support to change up the budget process this far along.

Although he maintains that the city should re-evaluate its status quo lines of service, he plans on seeing how the budget process rolls out before making definitive judgments.

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for


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Tyler Clarke

About the Author: Tyler Clarke

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for
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