2011 budget planned

On Monday evening the Waterloo city council will approve the budget for the 2011 year. However, drastic changes are not expected.

“This year’s budget is basically a status quo budget,” said the city’s chief financial officer and treasurer Bob Mavin. “There are no new staff members, there’s some expansion funding that’s been put in place for some approvals that happened last year…. This year’s budget is basically a continuation of what we’ve done in the past.”

According to Mavin, some of the 2011 budget’s highlights will be finding ways to continue the funding of projects that are already in place, such as the maintaining of the Waterloo Public Square and the operating costs for its ice rink, as well as “prosperity funding for cultural organizations.” Mavin also stated that proposed playing fields that are to be built on University of Waterloo land just north of Westmount road and the phasing in of the city’s already-approved storm water management system would be up for discussion at Monday’s meeting.

Jeff Henry, councillor for Ward 6, echoed Mavin’s statements regarding the budget that is to be approved on Monday.

“I think the most important thing to take away from this year’s budget is that it’s a one year budget, it’s a bit steady as she goes,” he said.

However, according to Henry, Monday’s council meeting will also have to see discussion regarding the $165 million infrastructure deficit the city currently faces.

“It’s a big challenge and a big pressure because we’ve got things that we built in the ‘50s and the ‘60s and now the bill is coming in to repay them and we have to find ways to fund that,” he said. “A few years ago, council approved setting aside 20 per cent of assessment growth — that’s more money that comes in because of new buildings and more expensive buildings that come in — setting aside 20 per cent of that to help fund that pressure; that’s a down payment and we’re going to be talking a little bit on Monday about how committed we are to those numbers.”

Although the 2011 budget is short-term in nature, Henry believes that the 2012-14 budget will play a much larger role in determining the future of Waterloo. According to the councillor, work on that budget will start right away.

“The really interesting budget is going to be the three-year one that we’ll be working with the community to settle over the next year,” he said. “We’re going to start almost immediately after we approve the 2011 budget and that’s being driven by the strategic plan and that’s an area for community participation and it’s an opportunity for students and the entire community to talk about what they really want.”