Harsh winter throws Thunder Bay budget out of balance

After what it calls “another unprecedented winter” city administration is recommending an increase to the 2014 budget to help pay for unexpected spending.
Thunder Bay taxpayers may have to pay the price for the harsh winter.

After what it calls “another unprecedented winter” city administration is recommending an increase to the 2014 budget to help pay for unexpected spending.

The city reports plowing record amounts of snow has cost more than $3 million that was not budgeted for — a cost that has helped to push the city into a deficit position of nearly $6 million.

City treasurer Carol Pollard said other contributors to the shortfall include $700,000 in unbudgeted legal expenses, a rise in diesel fuel prices, and insurance costs related to the flooding in 2012.

“While the city does have reserves and reserve funds to assist with extraordinary and unforeseen budget challenges, we used this approach last year and 2014 must take a more proactive and targeted approach,” stated city manager Tim Commisso in a press release Friday.

“The city must have a balanced budget each year. The reality is that is not the case at this time and we need to bring back a proactive strategy to council and how to achieve that outcome for the remainder of 2014.”

Administration's suggestions to tackle the deficit include:

  • Proposing cost savings of $2.49 million.
  • Proposing a $1.6 million, or one per cent tax levy increase. That would be in addition to the 1.7 per cent council approved earlier this year.
  • An additional $1.6 million will have to be found.

The report also suggests a review of city service levels and standards for all winter control activities.

"I guess that this has just been an unprecedented year in terms of the winter control especially," Pollard said.

And it's something that many cities across the country are experiencing ... with respect to their winter control budgets."

The Committee of the Whole meeting, which is open to the public, will begin at 6:30 p.m. in city hall council chambers on Monday.


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