CBRM council hears staff recommendations for cuts, reorganization

Proposed balanced budget plan for CBRM includes staff cuts, $17 million in savings over 5 years

March 25, 2014

SYDNEY, NS - Cape Breton Regional Municipality council heard initial staff recommendations today for $17 million in cost cutting over the next five years.

Council will now examine the recommendations as part of the wider budget-making process.

The recommendations include a reduction of 40 staff across several departments through attrition and a reduction in annual budget expenditures by $5 million by the 5th year.

Mayor Cecil Clarke said the reorganization and cuts proposed are the result of an operational review undertaken in the past year by senior staff.

"With the additional pressure of $5 million in costs from the provincial government, we must look at options for the corresponding savings in our budget," said Clarke. "Today we saw what that would mean in terms of fewer staff, closed facilities and reduced services. These recommendations are options, but with the millions in additional costs, they can become reality."

Council voted to support continuing discussions to consider the recommendations presented by staff.Council gave direction to staff to create a recommended budget document.

CBRM council's 2014-15 budget must include $5 million in added provincial costs. The Mayor detailed the added costs to the public last week.

Interim CAO Marie Walsh says she will not recommend a tax increase for residents. She disagrees with the provincial government's suggestion that CBRM should raise the tax rate.

Walsh says CBRM has hit a tax revenue "wall".

"Citizens can't pay any more and we see that in terms of taxes we can't collect. There is no benefit to the municipality, or its residents, if there is a tax increase," said Walsh.

Walsh's report indicated the organizational review sought to meet the objectives of living within our means, providing an appropriate level of services and funding reserves within a position of a balanced budget. This resulted in recommendations to reduce staff and expenditures and develop economic opportunities.