Corner Brook council imposes temporary freeze on spending

Corner Brook city council has begun the 2014 budget process, and has imposed a temporary freeze on spending.
The upcoming Corner Brook budget is getting an intense review. The city has already frozen spending, and it looks like there will also be less travelling in 2014. (CBC)

The Corner Brook city council has imposed a temporary freeze on spending, as it begins the 2014 budget process. 

In 2013, the former council passed a $31 million budget. The next budget, however, is getting an intense review.

An almost entirely new council has already agreed to a wage freeze, but it will leave staff with the difficult task of finding inventive ways to run the city with less revenue coming in.

Mayor Charles Pender said city residents have made their positions known to council.

"The budget has expanded significantly over the last four years, taxes have risen 37 per cent over the last four years, residents and business people have told us quite clearly they can't afford any more ... so we have to find a way to do more with less," said Pender.  

Travel spending to be scrutinized

One area getting a closer look is the annual travel allowance.

In 2012, the previous council increased the amount to $45,000, but cut the amount to $40,000 last year.

Pender doubts it will be the same in 2014.

"We are also looking at the amount that our staff travels, both in province and out-of-province, looking at efficiency's, where perhaps they can go to close to home, as opposed to going to the other side of the country." 

Pender said it appears travel expenditures by the previous council did not win over voters.

"You know there was a fair amount of travel, and I guess a lot of people were upset about that. We've heard that message. And you know, when I was mayor before, we didn't do nearly as much travel as the last council."

Before next year's budget is finalized, Corner Brook Mayor Charles Pender wants a full review. (CBC)

Suspending all new spending until the budget review process has been completed means no new hires.

"We have about six positions that we need to fill ... we are going to look at those very carefully first," Pender told CBC.

The city is giving residents a chance to voice their opinions on the afternoon of Nov. 4., by dropping by Corner Brook city hall. 

The budget is expected to be released in early December.

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