Iqaluit council scratches for savings

Desperate measures may include tapping building reserve fund

By NUNATSIAQ NEWS

Iqaluit councillors and city staff discussed how to trim fat from their draft budget during a committee of a whole meeting on Jan. 20.

The recommendations could shave expenses by $200,000. That’s about one-third of the $620,000 shortfall currently expected, which would be paid by ratepayers through increased fees and property taxes.

However, the biggest cost-saving measure is also the least popular with councillors. That would involve dipping into the city’s buildings reserve to pay for badly-needed repairs inside city hall.

The building’s two boilers both need to be replaced. To pull them out, asbestos must also be removed from pipes. The total cost for that work amounts to about $115,000.

The city’s buildings reserve is a special pot of money set aside to buy or construct a new municipal building one day. The money was never meant for repairs — but dipping into the funds would ease the effect of any tax hike on ratepayers.

During the meeting on Friday, Deputy Mayor Glenn Williams said he doesn’t support spending reserves this way.

The city could also save money by spending less on insuring its water, sewage and garbage trucks ‚ provided the drivers find themselves in fewer accidents than in 2005.

City vehicles found themselves in about 20 bang-ups that year. The city could lower its deductible in 2006 so it’s only covered for 14 accidents, which saves about $30,000.

Another $30,000 could be shaved from the city’s ambulance reserve fund, which currently has $60,000 set aside for it in the draft budget.

And the city can expect to save about $35,000 when the Plateau’s new water booster station takes over work currently being done by the Trigram building, which heats water for parts of the town.

Councillors were to discuss the draft budget again today, and will vote on the budget on Monday. That leaves just one day before the city’s deadline at the end of the month to present its draft budget to the Government of Nunavut.

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