Cuts likely as Saint John embarks on city service review
Departments to identify service impacts under scenarios of budget freeze or 2% inflationary increase
Saint John city council will begin a comprehensive review of spending this month and the results will likely lead to cuts to some city services in next year's budget.
In the coming weeks, department managers will attend a series of special council meetings to present on two scenarios — one would see a two per cent increase for inflation in 2015, while the other would see no increase whatsoever.
Mayor Mel Norton says that review will almost certainly result in a redistribution of funds and with some city services being eliminated.
"That's very likely one of the outcomes of this exercise," said Norton.
"We'll end up identifying current services that are delivered that council identifies as not being clearly a priority of the community and the resources spent on those services be redirected toward other services."
City manager Pat Woods says no department or commission will be left out. He says one of the more difficult anticipated issues will be wage settlements.
"The current settlements, the arbitrated settlements are simply unaffordable over the long term," he said.
Woods told council that if wage increases can't be controlled, services in the particular city department involved would have to be cut back to match the pool of money allotted.
The first special meeting is scheduled for March 24.
Additional meetings will be held throughout the month of April.
It is expected changes to service levels will take effect in 2015.