By Jillian Morgan
Halifax council has approved a 17 per cent budget increase – a total of $119,800 – for the city’s Chief Administrative Office.
Deputy Mayor Matt Whitman asked departments to “sharpen their pencils” during the 2016-17 budget meeting that took place on Wednesday. All but two departments have cut back on funds: the Chief Administrative Office and the legal, insurance and risk management offices.
Interim Chief Administrative Officer John Traves requested an increase in budget despite a projected $1,400 in savings for the remaining 2016 quarter. The proposed budget of $826,500 for 2016-17 is up from a 2015-16 budget of $706,700. The budget for the Office of the Mayor will remain at $812,500.
The Chief Administrative Office manages Halifax’s public relations and communications department as well as providing administrative and legislative support to council.
Councillor Gloria McCluskey raised concerns about the need for 22 communications officers under the Chief Administrative Office and suggested department staff communicate with the media directly. Traves responded that the office had cut four communications officers for the 2016-17 budget – a savings of $285,000.
The reasons for the budget increase include calibrating employee and salary adjustments.
Legal, insurance and risk management offices proposed a $67,400 increase that was approved by council.
Savings from the Office of the Auditor General, human resources and the finance and information communication technology department total $517,100.