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Pemberton posting $120,000 deficit

Shortfall expected to be made up by reserve funds



The Village of Pemberton is posting a $120,000 shortfall in its provisionary budget but there is not yet any reason for alarm.

The deficit was revealed at Pemberton's Dec. 14 council meeting. Mayor Jordan Sturdy said the numbers only appear that way because council and staff are looking at creating financial reserves for services such as administration and public works.

"There's reserves that we don't currently have that we are proposing to create in a number of different areas," Sturdy said. "You've got to balance revenues with expenditures, so we have x amount of revenues, y amount of expenditures, they balance, so if we want to create reserves, it's going to cost more money."

The Village of Pemberton hopes to build up reserves in several areas. The provisionary budget attached to the Dec. 14 meeting agenda shows that Pemberton wants to add $5,000 to a park infrastructure reserve; $85,000 to go towards purchase, placement and delivery of fill for a seniors housing project; $66,666 for a new fire truck; $48,723 for downtown water line repairs and upgrades.

Pemberton's rationale behind the reserves is so it can have various funds to draw from instead of digging deeper into taxpayers' pockets to pay for public services.

"An example of a reserve, we have a park infrastructure reserve which was targeted and children's play structures," said Administrator Daniel Sailland. "Right now we replace them as we go. If we start rotating through our parks, we can plan to do a complete rebuild of some of these children's structures. It's better to do a reserve than take off the day to day taxation."

Other budget items raised at the meeting included salaries and the amount of the annual budget they actually take up at the Village of Pemberton. Sturdy said during the meeting's question period that 63 per cent of Pemberton's budget goes to salaries, well above the provincial average of 55 per cent.

The mayor added that salaries are "something we're aware of and we'll look to keeping an eye on," and that Pemberton is looking to bring remuneration more in line with the provincial average.

"It's the structure of the community, it's all different, and the cost of living as well," Sturdy said. "It's an interesting statistic and something worth keeping an eye on."

The provisional budget shows administrative salaries going from $261,348 in 2010 to a projected $524,054. That doesn't, however, mean that Sailland is making all that money. Other salaries associated with administration have been rolled into that number, meaning it accounts for more than just Sailland's remuneration.

The meeting also saw council receive correspondence from Jeff Westlake, operations and maintenance manager at the Pemberton Valley Dyking District, providing an update on initiatives coming in response to the massive Meager landslide last summer.

The letter stated that the dyking district has submitted a funding proposal to Emergency Management BC that will help it identify hazards and mitigation options associated with large woody debris; update flood protection and hazard mapping to a GIS format; investigate options for an early warning system close to the confluence of Meager Creek and the Lillooet River; and survey river cross-sections to develop an understanding of aggradation rates and impacts to flood protection works.

The total cost of a large wood debris assessment and mitigation plan is pegged at $62,100, which includes the cost of field investigations and investigating options for an early warning system.