“We’re looking forward to a fun-filled day of numbers and figures” a tongue-in-cheek Mayor Jack Froese said, as he prepared to open an all-day special Township council meeting on the municipal budget Monday morning.
The discussion started with a staff report listing council options presented by Karen Sinclair, the deputy director of finance.
To summarize: like most municipalities, much of the money is already spoken for, covering existing programs, funding financial reserves and other costs.
There is more than $60 million in new projects and proposals, however, and that is where council will likely be focusing most of its attention.
For instance, the staff report suggests putting aside some cash for the future widening of the 208 Street overpass connecting Willoughby and Walnut Grove across Highway 1.
It calls for earmarking $1 million this year, and another $5.8 million in each of the next two years.
Councillor Kim Richter balked at the proposal, saying the money would be better spent on the road improvements along 208 that some residents have called for.
“I haven’t received any complaints about congestion [on the overpass]” Richter said.
“Where is the business case to say for us, this is a priority?”
In response to a question by Mayor Froese, the Township manager of engineering and community development, Ramin Seifi, said staff felt it was time to begin preparing for the widening of 208.
“Unless we start thinking about it [widening to four lanes] and start putting money aside for it, it will never get done,” Seifi said.
Councillor Charlie Fox said the money for the widening would come from the Development Cost Charges developers pay when developing new homes.
“It doesn’t come out of the taxpayer’s pocket,” Fox said.
Other proposals under consideration would get underway this year.
They include more upgrades to 72 Avenue near an accident-prone intersection at the border with Surrey, restoring the bumpy Old Yale heritage road, funding for a standalone cat shelter co-funded by the Langley Animal Protection Society (LAPS), and a temporary increase in parking for Willoughby.
Other potential projects on the list are the development of Yorkson Community Park, two softball diamonds for Willoughby Community Park and road improvements in Brookswood.
Once council has decided what to keep and what to cut, plans call for consultation with the public in early March, with an on-line survey and two open houses.
Tax notices should go out by the end of May.