Almost a dozen projects have been cut from the city budget to keep the tax rate lower than originally thought.
The cuts include money for a new generator and showers at the fire hall, as well as deferring the structural assessment for the Ruth Inch Memorial Pool and cutting the citizen survey.
The budget passed by council also gave a smaller amount $1.1 million to the capital transfer – money sent towards infrastructure projects – from the money provided by the territory.
Cutting the capital transfer – the original draft budget had more than $1.2 million going towards the capital transfer – is a commonly used tactic to cut taxes, according to Sharolynn Woodward, corporate services director for the City of Yellowknife. But it can have long-term costs, by making less money available for infrastructure projects in the future, Woodward added.
This could mean some contracting companies move their businesses out of town, says councillor Niels Konge.
“If we cut, cut, cut, cut, cut, all those people who rely on contracts, they are going to hurt more and they all have employees that are living here,” said Konge.
That’s on top of cuts made in previous drafts of the 2021 budget to things like staffing.
Two emergency dispatchers, sidewalk maintenance workers and a new development and lands officer had been earmarked as needs for the city, but Woodward said it would have been “unrealistic” to ask councillors to support new hirings during COVID-19.
Here’s the full list of cuts made during four days of budget deliberations last week:
1. The $14,825 carry over from the 2019 budget for the Fire Hall Improvement study was cancelled
2. The $300,116 carry over for the Fire Hall Emergency Generator was cancelled
3. The $255,000 for the Asset Management Project from 2021 was cut, but the city maintained the carry over of $385,500 from the 2019 budget to keep the project
4. $185,000 of the $251,000 for the Fire Hall Renovations for showers is now conditional on release of the Fire Hall Study
5. $75,000 was cut from this year’s budget by deferring the Ruth Inch Memorial Structural Assessment from 2021 to 2022
6. $45,000 was cut by cancelling the Citizen Survey
7. $175,037 was cut from the budget by eliminating travel expenses for the city
8. The Medical Dispatch System was cut, saving $49,000
9. Council cut $50,000 from the 2021 budget by reducing the city’s annual contribution to the Capital Area Committee’s operations.
10. A further $22,500 was cut by deferring the FDM Roster Software Module for one year to determine “whether Day Force is capable of scheduling for the Yellowknife Fire Division”