Trail council cuts $1M from budget

Property tax invoices will be mailed out this month

In a time of fiscal restraint brought on by the COVID-19 virus, the City of Trail responded, slashing more than $1 million from this year’s budget.

The city reconsidered the original 2020 Budget and Five Year Financial Plan at a Governance and Operations Committee (GOC) meeting last month, where council approved an amended budget that cancelled capital projects totalling $1,007,450.

According to Chief Administrative Officer, David Perehudoff, those projects are put on hold for 2020 and may be revisited by council in the next fiscal year.

“The deferred projects will be reconsidered in 2021 and compared against other priority projects and funding available,” Perehudoff told the Trail Times.

“At this time, it is difficult to forecast what monies might be available in 2021 until the city has assessed the full financial impacts of COVID-19 and whether or not the deferred projects will be funded next year or in future capital budgets.”

The Groutage Avenue Esplanade Development is the largest endeavour impacted by the cuts.

Budgeted at over $425,000, plus another $174,500 to address its drainage issues and replace storm sewers, the project’s scope was to improve access, lighting, parking, and safety between the Columbia River Skywalk and downtown, while boosting aesthetics above ground.

The city also received a $250,000 revitalization grant from Columbia Basin Trust for the project.

In addition, replacing city hall’s main-floor carpet for almost $25,000 was set aside for another year, as was a Trail Memorial Centre Feasibility Study valued at $30,000.

Signage for Jason Bay Field at Butler Park, estimated at $40,000, will be postponed, as will the $15,000 replacement of irrigation flow sensors in certain parks, and an emergency shower and eyewash station in the RCMP detachment, $10,500.

The city will also delay replacing the salt and sand bin covers, put off improvements to the boat launch near Gyro Park, and has set aside a plan to install a noise barrier wall at the municipal RV Park, located near Waneta Plaza.

These deferrals collectively amount to $257,000.

These cost-cutting measures come as a response to the financial stress caused by the pandemic due to local business closures, job losses, and economic uncertainty.

Yet, Trail council is balancing fiscal responsibility with the city’s need to maintain infrastructure and keep people working.

Council went ahead and approved a number of capital projects, grants for non-profits, and froze the property tax rate.

In the most recent GOCs, council gave the go ahead for a Dust Suppression Program, and awarded contracts for crack sealing, asphalt and gravel lane rehabilitation, a water main replacement on Munter Street, and reconstruction of the Butler Park pickleball and tennis court.

“The city has an important role to play in terms of continuing to provide a reasonable level of service, but recognizes the need to balance this with the COVID-19 reality and the financial impacts that include considerable revenue losses,” Perehudoff said.

“This is coupled by council’s decision to maintain the 2020 property tax levy at the same level as last year and to defer the property tax due date until the end of August.”

With the closure of most facilities, such as the aquatic centre, Trail Memorial Centre, all parks and city hall, the municipality has also suffered its share of cutbacks.

“Parks, Recreation and Culture are impacted the most significantly at this time and there are ongoing staffing and other adjustments that have – and are being made – to deal with the COVID-19 imposed restrictions and the financial implications,” said Perehudoff.

“Recognizing the role and impacts the city has across the community, staff continue to seek direction from council as required and is assessing all services being provided as part of trying to minimize impacts wherever possible.”

Trail residents should receive their property tax invoices this month, and have until Aug. 31 to pay.

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