Council Gives Preliminary Approval to 2013 Operating and Capital Budgets

City Council has given preliminary approval to the 2013 operating budget holding the tax increase to no more than 3.25% for 2013, as well as 2013-2015 capital budgets.
 
The 2013 Operating Budget focuses investment in priority areas including:
  • $60 million in emergency services; fire and police
  • $8.3 million towards maintaining Victoria's 70 parks and green spaces
  • $7.1 million in maintaining 250 km of roads, 30 km of bike lanes and sidewalks
  • $1.1 million in arts and cultural events and programming
  • $250,000 for economic development to grow the local economy
  • Introducing webcasting of Council meetings and new customer service improvements across the organization
  • $30 million of the operating budget is allocated to capital spending and reserves

After lengthy Council discussion informed by public input, 2013 budget expenditures were reduced by close to $1 million through a number of strategies:

  • Limiting Mayor and Council salary increases to 0% in 2013
  • Limiting Exempt (non-unionized) staff salary increases to 0% in 2013
  • Allocating 1.25% of 2013 operating budget increase to capital spending, from the earlier planned 1.5%
  • Limiting the police budget increase to 2% for 2013

Council also approved the transfer of any 2012 surplus to capital infrastructure reserves for future infrastructure improvements.

These strategies have been approved-in-principle, and will be formally considered by Council when the Five Year Financial Plan Bylaw, 2013 is considered in May.

Additional reductions affecting the 2014 and 2015 budgets were also considered in an effort to hold the tax increase to 3.25% or less for those years. After extensive discussion, Council agreed that the following strategies would continue to be considered for 2014 and 2015 budgets, timed with receiving recommendations from the organizational review currently underway:

  • Request the Greater Victoria Library Board to limit budget increases for Victoria's contribution to the library system to 2% for 2014 and 2015
  • Request the Victoria Esquimalt Police Board to limit Victoria's share of the Police budget to 2% for 2014 and 2015
  • Partial automation of some parkades during slow periods to be considered within the larger review of Parking Services planned for 2013
  • Advertising inside City parkades and on parking machines
  • Reduction in some City-led seasonal programming in Centennial Square
  • Allocate 1.25% of 2014 and 2015 operating budget increase to capital spending, from the earlier planned 1.5%

Council requested the review of the City's current organizational structure and comparison of peer communities be completed as soon as possible. The review is underway and is expected to recommend opportunities to improve the organizational structure for improved efficiency and potential cost savings. The report is expected in late April.

Background information on all of the budget reduction strategies, as well as the City's Financial Sustainability Policy and Budget Principles can be found here.