Tonight, Sault Ste. Marie City Council will be presented with a preliminary 2018 budget including a $2.2 million increase in the municipal property tax levy.
That's up 2.02 per cent from last year, but down from the 3.02 per cent hike proposed in the budget's first draft last month.
City Council has been pushing for more spending cuts, but Al Horsman, the city's chief administrative officer, doesn't want to slash any further.
If council wants additional spending cuts, Horsman says, it needs to hire a third-party consultant like the city did recently to find ways to hike user fees.
"To effectively adjust net expenditures, third-party analysis such as that performed on user fees should equally be undertaken for expenditure items," Horsman says in a report to Mayor Christian Provenzano and city councillors.
In May, acting on a resolution from Ward 3 Councillor Matthew Shoemaker, City Council told Horsman his 2018 preliminary budget should have a zero per cent increase over last year.
Further, the CAO was instructed to prepare a list of spending cuts that would allow a one per cent reduction.
When the budget's first draft was presented on Nov. 20, Horsman was pressured to provide further information on spending cuts to satisfy the requirements of Councillor Shoemaker's May resolution.
The CAO's new report was a response to the request for additional information.
"To achieve the identified target of zero per cent and a further one per cent, net departmental expenditure reductions of approximately $1.9 million and $3.8 million respectively would be required," Horsman said.
"The expanded listings provided in this report offer additional details on discretionary items that total $34.8 million from which council can choose from should it wish to meet the proposed target identified in the May 6, 2017 motion."
"By adopting past years' net expenditure reductions and with user fee changes, council has accepted all expenditure increases that staff would recommend, If further adjustments are sought, they would impact service levels," the CAO said.
Today's City Council meeting will be livestreamed by SooToday starting at 4:30 p.m.