The City of Nanaimo has begun the search for 20 temporary, part-time life guard and swim instructors for the upcoming 2013-2014 season. The seasonal hirings are to supplement four, permanent full-time staff members the city has working in the department.
The lifeguards will work at Beban Park Pool and Nanaimo Aquatic Centre from September to June, said Laara Clarkson, manager of aquatics at the city.
She said seasonal staff are also expected to be hired at city arenas for skating activities in anticipation of increased activity.
The city's fall activity guide is slated to come out before the end of the month, she added.
BUDGET MEETING PLANNED
The city will hold a special open committee of the whole meeting on Aug. 29 to review the upcoming 2014 budget.
Finance director Brian Clemens said city staff have not ironed out all the details yet regarding the information that will be presented at the meeting.
"All we're going to talk about is the budget," said Clemens.
The meeting is a direct response to discussions on the previous budget that took place this past spring.
A majority of council members voted to approve the 2013 budget, which included a 2.8 per cent increase in residential taxes and a 1.8 per cent overall increase in taxes.
However, three councillors - Bill Bestwick, Jim Kipp and Bill McKay - voted against the financial plan.
The three had jointly proposed a list of spending cuts in an attempt to yield a zero per-cent tax increase for this fiscal year.
While individual items received some support from other councillors, there were not enough votes at the table to see any of the cuts pass.
Their plan was also criticized by Coun. George Anderson and others as ineffective at reducing taxation in 2013.
In turn, the McKay, Bestwick and Kipp alleged that their peers were unwilling to find savings in the budget in order to save taxpayers' money.
However, councillors unanimously approved a motion by Kipp to begin discussions on the 2014 budget early, so as to allow for more time to review the numbers.
If recent council topics are any indication, the upcoming budget talks are likely to be just as heated as they were in the spring.
Council recently approved a retrofit to one of the city's six Zamboni ice cleaning machines from propane to electric power, which city staff said would result in a net cost saving for the city.
However, McKay, Bestwick and Kipp said they were disappointed that the option was not presented to them last year, when council approved the purchase of a new, electric Zamboni for about $70,000 more than a new propane model.
"I didn't think we needed a $170,000- Zamboni and now I realize we didn't," said Kipp.
However, city staff maintain that the vehicle will in fact save the city money over its life.
McKay and Coun. Diane Brennan also recently sparred over a $20,000 heritage grant awarded to St. Paul's Anglican Church.
Council had to dip into its contingency fund to cover the full cost of the grant, and McKay said in an email to councillors that he felt "duped" after learning the church had $1 million set aside to rebuild its church hall.
"I gotta tell you, if I had known they had a million dollars in the bank, I would have told them to wait until next year," he said.
Brennan, who chairs the Nanaimo Community Heritage Commission, said her committee knew the second project was coming before council for a heritage alteration permit. She replied that the grant is not based on financial need for any applicant
Brennan pointed out that financial need was never discussed when council awarded a $10,000 heritage grant to a private company renovating the Nanaimo Free Press building on Commercial Street.
"I'm not sure why Coun. McKay would think that we should have financial information on the church," she said. "Is it just because it's a church?"
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