KAMLOOPS — After months of gathering civic feedback on what residents would like to see in the supplemental budget, as well as staff requests, the city broke down the 12 items now up for discussion at a public meeting on Tuesday night.
Westsyde Pool took up a quarter of the requests, including Phase II of repair costs of the 40-plus year old building. The supplemental request indicates there needs to be updates to the heating, cooling, ventilation, and pool boiler system. Westsyde residents also asked that expanded hours remain, costing the city another $125,000 a year. There's also a request to replace some aging fitness equipment at Westsyde Pool over the next few years at an ongoing cost of $35,000.
But it will be up to council later this month to decide what's in and what's not.
"We'll basically do a similar presentation of this to council and say here are all the projects. Do you want to do them? If you want to do them, where do you want to fund them from?" noted city finance director Kathy Humphrey.
Among the other 12 items on the supplemental list, snow clearing in limited access laneways, which some residents rely on to get into their home, garnered attention on Tuesday night, along with other snow clearing suggestions. It would cost the city $320,000 up front for equipment and $35,000 a year to keep the service up.
"People make note of the fact that there are new subdivisions, there's increased lane kilometres that have to be plowed," said mayor Ken Christian, who spent a considerable amount of time at the public works table where snow clearing discussions were taking place.
"There's increased kilometres of sidewalks that need maintainence, so they're pointing out that we're doing a lot more work with the same fleet and with the same crews. I think it's a point that's well-taken and we need to look at that going forward."
Despite city council voting down Donovan Cavers' motion to compare snow-clearing practices and budgets in other cities, Christian pointed out the city needs to take a closer look at how to do things more efficiently.
"I think the public deserves better than having us serve whoever complains the loudest," he said. "I think we need a systematic review of service levels, and then from that decide where we want to expend the public's money on enhanced services."
Another supplemental item that was well-represented on Tuesday was the group, including former Kamloops Blazer Steve Gainey, hoping for a $50,000 study into the potential of an outdoor rink at Riverside Park or elsewhere.
"We're positive, optimistic about where things are going. It's been a couple years and a lot of meetings, and a lot of different things have come together to get us here to give it back to councillors to make their final decision," said Gainey. "I think we've done as much as we can."
The study would likely have to be funded through city coffers. But Humphrey pointed to other items that could be paid for through grants.
"Sandman Centre equipment replacement, the curtain at Pac Way, even the Portland Loos, if you wanted, could get funded out of gaming," she said. "There's lots of options for some of these projects."
Council will vote on the items at the Feb. 20 and Feb. 27 meetings. Following that, the city will be able to crunch numbers on a final property tax increase. As it stands, the tax hike would be 1.86% — minus savings from a lower utility rate increase — a number that Humphrey said is likely to jump when including the supplemental items.
Residents also have the option to craft their own budget on the City of Kamloops website. It's called Citizen Budget.
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