How should your tax dollars be spent? Do you agree with reductions in some services in order to pay for increases in others?
Those are the types of questions the City of Port Coquitlam is asking its taxpayers through Friday, Feb. 15 as it collects feedback to the 2013-2017 Financial Plan - and in particular, the 2013 Budget.
"It's the most important document that we adopt each year," Mayor Greg Moore said in a press release.
"People need to be part of it and contribute to the decisions behind it. We've taken extra steps this year to help give the public a deeper understanding of our budget, in the hopes of encouraging more participation."
This year, the budget process and proposed changes are explained in detail in a 24page Budget Highlights booklet that is available to view at www.portcoquitlam.ca/budget or in print at Port Coquitlam City Hall, the Port Coquitlam Recreation Complex, Hyde Creek Recreation Centre, Wilson Centre, the Gathering Place and Terry Fox Library.
Feedback may be provided through Friday, Feb. 15:
. Through the Budget Suggestion Box at www. portcoquitlam.ca/budget.
. To the Manager of Financial Services at 604-9275443 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
. At City Hall, 2580 Shaughnessy St.
. Using the detachable comment sheet at the back of the Budget Highlights booklet.
The city's draft 2013 Budget includes a municipal tax increase of $50.65 (2.63 per cent) and an infrastructure replacement levy of $19.29 (one per cent) for the average single-family home assessed at $526,175.
A variety of improvements as well as service level changes are proposed in 2013 in order to both balance the budget and meet community needs. In a statistically valid survey conducted last fall by Ipsos Reid, the city says, Port Coquitlam residents indicated they preferred to see improvements funded through a balance of service level adjustments and rate increases.
Planned service improvements include two new police officers and six new firefighters to enhance community safety, an electronic mobile fire inspection system for more efficient fire inspections, and activities to promote and support local businesses, including a networking and celebration event.
To produce a balanced budget and reduce the impact on taxpayers, the city has offset the value of all improvements with a similar value of proposed savings and changes to service levels. More than $217,000 in savings and efficiencies were achieved through budget reductions and improved processes, such as reducing maintenance costs through use of new technology.
A further $438,625 was saved through a variety of proposed service level changes.
A number of these changes affect parks and recreation services, such as staffing levels and recreation facility hours and maintenance. Full details are outlined in the Budget Highlights booklet.
More information on the 2013-2017 Financial Plan may be found at www.portcoquitlam.ca/budget, by e-mailing email@example.com or by calling the city at 604-9275443.