City of YK Budget 2018
City of YK Budget 2018
In response to the City of Yellowknife draft budget, where a 5.64% tax increase was proposed - the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce made a submission to City Council:
The Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce has taken pride in the positive relationship that has been developed between the City and the Chamber, and the many successful partnerships we’ve established. It is in this spirit that we voice our concern and the Yellowknife business community’s frustration with the proposed 5.64% property tax increase.
Upon thorough analysis of the draft 2018 budget, it appears that there are a number of projects that could be cut to bring the 2018 property tax increase to a reasonable amount – which we believe should be no more than 2.5%. While it’s impossible for us to determine which items are critically important, and which items are a ‘nice to have’, we’ve noticed several items that were deemed ‘nice to have’ in the 2017 budget deliberations, but have made their way forward into the draft 2018 budget. We’ve also noticed several items that don’t seem necessary, like the Fieldhouse – Track Access Door (page 165) at a cost of $100,000. In the budget item substantiation, it states that “many” people are accessing the track without a proper pass. Is it enough people to justify a $100,000 expense? When’s the expected return on investment?
Every year we voice our concerns with the Annual Fleet Replacement Program (page 196). It is our understanding that Administration brings forward these budget items based on internal policies for fleet management, but perhaps, it’s time to revise those policies so that vehicles are not prematurely replaced, a luxury that many business owners do not have.
We’d also like to express our lack of support for the number of studies being conducted, most notably the Revitalization Strategy for Downtown (page 102). We commend City Council for funding projects outside your mandate to help address Yellowknife’s social issues, but until more progress is made in addressing these issues, creating a Revitalization Strategy for Downtown is irrelevant. We also don’t support an RV Study (page 163) or a Post-Secondary/University Feasibility Study (page 42), and would advise City Council to ensure that if a study is conducted, there is the capacity to implement the study’s recommendations in a timely manner.
We always strive to take a balanced approach, and would like to voice our support for several projects, including Electronic Tendering (page 152). Given the new Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), which requires governments to have fully implemented electronic tendering processes within the next 5 years (reference 1), we urge the City of Yellowknife to begin this important process now.
Procurement is an important issue for our membership and we’ve been working with the City of Yellowknife to educate Yellowknife businesses on the bidding process and to create a Local Procurement Policy. We are optimistic that we will see this policy approved by Council by 2017 year-end. We hope that essential construction projects like the Annual Paving Program (page 213) and Water & Sewer Infrastructure Replacement (page 229) will be broken down into contracts that local construction companies have the capacity to bid on.
Tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors of the Yellowknife economy, with over $90 million in direct contributions to our economy per year (reference 2). We’ve been vocal about our support for an Accommodation Levy and would like to express our support for the budget item relating to the Destination Marketing Organization (page 98). We believe that investing in Trail Enhancement and Connectivity (page 161), will enhance thetourism experience in Yellowknife and a New Aquatic Centre (page 172) will allow Yellowknife to capitalize on sports tourism opportunities. In line with our support for the tourism investments above, we’re also supportive of the School Draw Parking Lot Improvement (page 188).
We understand that the City of Yellowknife is underfunded by the Government of the Northwest Territories by $11.4 million a year, and we would like to offer our support and assistance with lobbying the Territorial
Government to address this funding gap.
Reference 1: http://www.international.gc.ca/trade-commerce/trade-agreements-accords-commerciaux/agr-acc/ceta-aecg/index.aspx?lang=eng
Reference 2: https://yktourism.ca/resources
Our letter to Council in .pdf format can be downloaded here.