Charlottetown city budget avoids deficit

Charlottetown hosting 2nd annual Newcomers Welcome Reception

The city of Charlottetown has put the Snowmageddon of 2015 behind it and tabled a balanced budget for 2017.

The record snowfall in 2015 sent the city $3 million over budget, and forced it to announce a $1.5 million projected deficit for 2016 to cover that cost, with the expectation of a further $1.5 million deficit this year.

But the city was able to reduce that deficit to $530,000 for 2016, and is projecting a balanced budget for 2017.

Finance chair Coun. Melissa Hilton is crediting careful budget management with reducing that budget.

"The departments were very aware of the situation we were going into," Hilton told reporters in the budget lockup.

"Thankfully, the weather co-operated, as well."

One of the larger savings was from the budget reserve, which often goes for snow clearing.

The budget is being balanced without any increases to property taxes or utility rates.

City ready to hire

Last March, Hilton announced the city would hold off on hiring two police sergeants and two directors in an effort to save money.

The city has budgeted for the police sergeants, said Hilton, but is taking advice from the police department on whether to proceed. The province is also in the midst of a police review, which could affect decisions on those hirings.

The city was also holding back on the hiring of two directors. It is now planning to replace those two positions with one, under the title of deputy chief administrative officer.

2017 celebrations

The city has included in the budget significant increases in event spending as part of the celebration of Canada's 150th birthday.

The city spent just under $70,000 last year, and is budgeting $362,500 this year. City staff said there would be a focus on Canada Day and the city's Natal Day, which is June 10.

In her budget address, Hilton said tourism in the city is very event focused, and noted tourism broke records last year, surpassing 1.1 million visits for the first time.

Hilton is hopeful the city will break that record again in 2017.

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