Oak Bay’s 2021 financial draft plan is now available for review.
Council will deliberate the budget for three straight Thursday night meetings.
The total operating budget is forecasted at $63 million with $54 million in revenue. The increase in expenditures from last year is due to Oak Bay’s projected capital expenditures of $21 million compared to $6 million last year, which will be the highest ever by the municipality.
The main reasons for the bump in capital purchases are the Uplands sewer project ($6 million) and two new fire trucks ($4 million).
The numbers are only estimates, and are subject to change, notes director of financial services Chris Paine.
It’s part of the 2020-2024 financial plan that earned the District of Oak Bay’s first Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the Government Finance Officers Association. It’s an award that Saanich has won 12 straight years and Victoria for seven years.
Paine helped Colwood win the award for its first time in 2018 before he joined Oak Bay last year. Winning the award means going above and beyond what B.C.’s rather basic requirements are for a municipal financial plan.
“The award requires that you really outline the strategic goals for five years and link the expenditures to that,” Paine said.
It means using a five-year plan that shows citizens what specific capital projects money is being spent on, explains the narrative on financial policies, and details the operating budgets by department, such as public works, legislative services, and police services. It also requires readability and a good glossary and table of contents.
Winning the award represents a lot of cooperation through all the departments, Paine said.
“It’s a unified vision of all the priorities and accountability on how to report back on how the funds are spent. It’s foundational for us to be able to do that,” Paine said. “It really articulates a very clear commitment to asset management funding that this council has made over its term.”
Expenditures that stand out this year are the projected purchase of two new fire trucks, a $2 million “quint” and a $1.3 million engine. The fire hall will also add the five-year lease of (at $90,000 per year) of a container-style portable storage unit to fit the new engine.
Deliberation for the 2021 budget is scheduled for three committees of the whole meetings, Feb. 4, 11, and 18, at 6 p.m.
Residents can submit input by dropping a letter off at municipal hall or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline is noon on the day of the meeting.
Residents can also register to speak to council by phone at the meeting by emailing email@example.com (provide your name and number and you will receive instructions on how to dial in during the meeting).
Meetings are livestreamed at oakbay.civicweb.net/portal.