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City budget increase 2.15 per cent … so far

Taxpayers in the city will see their bill to the city increase by at least 2.15 per cent this year.

Council approved most of the city’s proposed $102 million budget Monday with a few items still outstanding. Most notable is a $1.4 million list of items designed to help improve social conditions downtown. Dubbed the Downtown Safe, Clean and Inclusive package, council will wait until the newly-struck committee on downtown issues convenes before making a decision on the package which includes funding to increase police patrols downtown, adding four more bylaw compliance officers, and security upgrades to city facilities downtown.

Three city business associations – the Prince George Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Prince George, and the Gateway Business Improvement Area – have called on council to fund an additional six RCMP officers and two support staff and that these new members be assigned to uniformed patrols of the Downtown and Gateway areas. The associations estimate these extra positions would cost an estimated $1.8 million per year and are calling on the city to find money in the existing budget to fill.

“Through our joint membership discussions and surveys with Downtown Prince George and the Gateway BIA – representing more than 1200 members – respondents resoundingly called for additional RCMP resources, not bylaw enforcement officers, as noted in the budget package,” said Chamber CEO Todd Corrigall in a letter to council Monday.

Council also deferred a decision on adding a climate change and energy coordinator position to the city payroll, slated to cost $100,407.

Council did approve a request from the RCMP to add a data processor position and a forensic video analyst position at the detachment.

“Over the past few years there’s been an increase in the number of members at the detachment,” said Supt. Shaun Wright. “But there hasn’t been a corresponding increase with the support staff to really provide the behind the scenes support.”

The data processor position will add $91,070 to the budget while the forensic video analyst will add $101,486.

Council also added a planner position at City Hall at a cost of $94,559.

Police protection, overall, accounts for $27.1 million in expenditures.

The fire protection budget was set at $18.3 million.

Council set the snow control budget at $8.5 million.

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