While Pitt Meadows crunches its budget numbers this week, Coun. Dave Murray says the smaller city will survive the break-up of its recreation partnership with Maple Ridge, and may even save a few dollars.
“It’s kind of exciting. It’s a great opportunity for our city to reach out to our citizens and listen to the kind of programs that they want to have.”
Pitt Meadows council is considering a proposal for a 3.45-per-cent property tax increase, or about another $61 per home.
The city’s business plan presentations took place on Wednesday and Thursday with council resuming discussions in January.
“We are going through line by budget line,” Murray said. “There are lots of things we can look at. We want to make sure that we don’t cut things that will be detrimental to our city. There will be very little waste after we go through this budget.”
While the split in recreation services takes place Nov. 1, 2016.
Murray’s not worried about the consequences.
“I think we’re going to be in pretty good shape. The arena’s just been upgraded, we have a brand community centre in Bonson … we’ve got probably one of the finest weight rooms [the Pitt Meadows Family Recreation Centre] in the entire Fraser Valley and we have the heritage [Pitt Meadows Heritage Hall] building.”
Pitt Meadows also has three sheets of ice.
“So we’re in really good shape that way.”
Murray also noted that Pitt Meadows will no longer have to pay for recreation administration salaries in Maple Ridge.
“It could wind up being actually very advantageous.”
Pitt Meadows pays about $2.2 million yearly towards parks and recreation and he said a lot of that goes towards administration under the recreation partnership.
Another recent change might help the Pitt Meadows budget and taxpayer.
If the city signs a deal with Multi Materials B.C., which in turn could hire a contractor to collect recyclables, Pitt Meadows could save another $225,000 a year.
The city is also seeking bids from companies for collection of green waste and garbage.
However, the fees for garbage collection will remain the same in 2016 – $253 a year for single-family homes and condo complexes with garbage pickup, and $10 a year for multi-family home with central garbage collection.
Part of the 3.45-per-cent property tax hike includes about a half-per-cent hike for the city’s new environmental stewardship service.
Another one per cent of the 3.45 per cent is to be socked away in a Pitt Meadows building replacement reserve fund.
Meanwhile, the $40,000 earmarked for a consultant to advise on building a new parks and recreation department may be closer to $25,000. But Murray said that money would be better spent as part of the salary for a new recreation director.
Murray was surprised by Maple Ridge’s decision in October to give a year’s notice that it was severing the 21-year partnership, in which the two cities shared recreation operating costs.
“I would have preferred to have a meeting with them, sat down with them, council to council, face to face.”
What it comes down to is, Maple Ridge is expanding east, putting its facilities farther from Pitt Meadows users.
“The timing was good,” to end the deal, he added.
The actual costs for Pitt Meadows to operate its own recreation department will be included in next year’s budget.
Pitt Meadows is also discussing recreation sharing with other cities, though there are no deals imminent.
He said Pitt Meadows is still partnering with Maple Ridge on many issues.
“We’ll meet with Maple Ridge any time, any place over any topic.”