Council gets first look at budget cut scenarios

Revelstoke city council now has a better idea about what five or ten-per cent cut to the city budget will look like.

Just before the Christmas break, council asked city department directors to present the scenarios as part of the ongoing budget process. The two scenarios would be implemented over a two-year period.

Department heads returned with numerous items they’d put on the chopping block, which was presented to the city’s committee of the whole on Jan. 18.

The fire department would have to cut the purchase of many items, such as a new engine 2, a new water tender truck, as well as dozens of smaller items. These include some replacement turnout gear, a reduced hose budget, reduced hydrant maintenance and many more cuts.

The planning department’s cuts seemed less severe by comparison, including reductions in the casual staff budget, office supplies and memberships in professional organizations. The department also notes cuts to contracted services, though figures weren’t provided.

City hall has little influence over the RCMP budget, the report states. However, cuts would mean the elimination of a planned 12th officer, as well as reductions to the department’s casual staff.

Public works provided a detailed list of dozens of reductions and cutbacks. They warn council the 10-per-cent scenario could mean the reduction of driveway windrow removal.

The cuts would mean reductions to staff hours on many programs. Equipment maintenance would be curtailed. Street sweeping and lawn mowing would be reduced.

The Community Economic Development department noted much of its budget comes from outside grants. However, the department’s report discussed cutting the tourism development coordinator position, and reductions to the city contribution to the Chamber of Commerce.

The recreation department warns that cuts would mean reduced hours at facilities like the pool and the Revelstoke Forum. There would also be a drop in revenues from these facilities.

The report also highlights several staff cutback scenarios.

The recreation department report also presents recommendations for increasing revenues, including increasing user fees, charging the Revelstoke Grizzlies more for use of the Forum, using volunteers to assist with some duties, and exploring changes to the collective agreement at the Forum.

The recreation department would also cut the proposed $80,000 Active Living program, which would computerize and modernize the department’s booking, billing and more.

At the Jan. 18 meeting, the committee explored the proposed cuts to some extent, but the report seemed to be received as more of a first-look to be mulled over as the budget process continues in the coming weeks and months.