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Apr 25,2008 - The Now News

Angela MacKenzie, Coquitlam NOW
Published: Friday, April 25, 2008

Port Moody council passed final adoption of the city's 2008 five-year financial plan Tuesday in a 4-3 vote.

Couns. Shannon Watkins, Karen Rockwell and Bob Elliott continued their opposition to the much-debated city budget.

All three councillors have voiced concerns that cuts to city services will negatively impact the community.

Paul Rockwood, the director of finance and IT, presented the 2008-2012 five-year financial plan at the last council meeting on April 11.

The 2008 budget proposes a 3.6-per-cent increase in property taxes, a 21.6-per-cent increase to storm drainage charges and an 8.1-per-cent increase to utilities for a combined increase of 5.2 per cent.

Those increases result in $50 increase in property taxes, an $8 increase in storm drainage charges and a $51 increase for utilities, for a combined increase of $109 for an average household with an assessed property valued at $510,000.

At an earlier council committee of the whole meeting Tuesday, the mayor and councillors voted to have staff take another look at recommendations to cut city projects related to tourism and economic development affected by the city's pared down budget for this year.

One of the impacts of the budget has been a reorganization of the city's corporate relations department.

Colleen Rohde's title changed to director of strategic planning and culture from director of corporate relations, and the position's focus on tourism and economic development was removed.

In her written report to council Tuesday, Rohde outlined suggestions to discontinue several projects that were under the direction of a separate tourism and economic development department, such as the visitor information centre at the Port Moody Arts Centre, the city's promotional clothing, the annual business recognition Spike Awards and the economic, tourism and arts development committee.

Coun. Diana Dilworth said she understands the need to look at the list of projects, but feels a "wholesale chopping" is unacceptable.

Mayor Joe Trasolini said he does not agree with the list of projects to discontinue and suggested that economic development and tourism be moved under the direction of the mayor's office as it was in the past. Dilworth responded by saying the city was different five to six years ago and asked that several items be flagged for review.

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