When Halifax Regional Municipality’s draft budget is handed out at Tuesday’s city council meeting, the numbers will be broken down on environmentally friendly compact discs instead of printed on bundles of wasted paper.
“We’re actually putting our budget on CDs this year, following the green theme,” chief administrative officer Dan English said yesterday of the city’s proposed fiscal plan for 2009-10. “But we will have the full budget documents for those who require them.”
Besides emphasizing the municipality’s move toward sustainability, English said the new budget also encompasses council’s key “focus areas,” including transportation, infrastructure, public safety, community planning, as well as governance and communications.
“There are certainly transit enhancements in the budget,” he said. But that won’t include the Bedford fast-ferry, which has been delayed for a year.
English said the municipality is only tabling the budget this evening, with “some high level overview, like what’s driving our cost pressures.” The actual debate will likely start May 26 and English hopes to see a vote June 2.
He promised the budget will be balanced, services will be maintained, the tax rate won’t increase, no layoffs are expected and “it’s not a recession budget, by any means.”
“It’s a budget that I believe will build in contingencies should we feel the effects of the global recession next year,” English said.
But he admitted there is less of an increase this year than in 2008-09, adding the budget takes advantage of stimulus money coming from the provincial and federal governments for infrastructure.
This year’s budget is being tabled a little late due to longer than expected debate on transit tax structures and the much-anticipated urban blueprint HRMByDesign.
“It is a bit out of the ordinary,” Mayor Peter Kelly admitted. “But we wanted to make sure that we had the right information.”