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How do you want your money spent?

The city of Port Coquitlam is seeking input from the public as staff and council begin the difficult process of putting together the city’s financial plan for the next five years.

Residents will have the opportunity to voice their priorities for the document, which sets the city’s tax rates and allocates money for construction and operations.

Staff anticipate salary and wage increases will total $1.4 million while police costs will likely increase by $605,400 in 2011. Inflation will also add $736,300 to the city’s costs.

But several spending decreases will offset some of the increase costs the city will face. New construction, for example, will drop $860,000 compared to 2010, which saw an unprecedented boom in road upgrades thanks to matching grants from the federal government.

With economic conditions starting to return to normal, Mindy Smith, PoCo’s director of corporate services, said there is more certainty in the city’s budget figures this year.

“We have had a much more stable budget process this year than in the last two years,” Smith said. “There has been less fluctuations in market conditions, which helped us be more certain with out budget figures.”

The city’s committees have until February 25 to receive public comments, which will be presented and considered at the March 17 finance and intergovernmental committee meeting.

The first readings of the 2011-2015 financial plan bylaw will take place in council on March 28 and the document is expected to be approved by April 11.

Residents who wish to have their say on the budget can contact Bill Wiseman, the city’s deputy treasurer, by email at budget@portcoquitlam.ca or by phone at 604-927-5435.

gmckenna@tricitynews.com

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