While all of the city's service partners met their net zero mandate, some bore the weight of the ask with more ease than others.
Initiatives Prince George, Tourism Prince George and the Prince George Public Library all presented their financial plans during city council's first budget deliberation meeting Wednesday and all met the challenge of doing so without an increase.
"And we've asked them to do that because we've had some challenges within the city," said Mayor Shari Green. "We've been doing a core review here and we don't want them to necessarily be exempt from the exercise in their own way. Are they checking their own fiscal house and making sure that they are being able to deliver the service that needs to be provided with the dollars that we're able to afford to give them?"
Green congratulated IPG CEO Heather Oland and the economic development agency's board for coming in under budget last year and carrying a surplus into 2013.
"You talked last year about that opportunity and you hoped to lower some of your administrative costs and move those dollars into program delivery, and clearly you've shown that for what's coming here," said Green.
IPG receives $1,024,904 from the city to carry out their annual work, which amounts to roughly 70 per cent of their revenue.
Oland said the organization is hoping to build on their work last year and leverage even more money from the provincial and federal governments.
Coun. Lyn Hall indicated that lowering the amount the city invests in the IPG would affect negatively affect their ability to reach out to the other levels of government for more money.
"Both senior levels of government are very clear in terms of not contributing money for operating expenses," Oland explained. "It can only be additional, time-limited programming that has a beginning, middle and an end... So they look to make sure we are adequately funded to be able to provide not only our core services, but then do we have the ability to deliver the programs that they agree to fund. So, it's key."
Tourism Prince George CEO Aiden Kelly and board chair Mary Jane Hannah also presented optimistic views of the coming year.
The group has once again received $327,000 from the city but has an aggressive revenue generation target of more than $1.2 million. The overall budget for the society has increased by $172,00 due to increased tourism activity and hotel revenues along with an increase in community partnership opportunities, they said.
However, the public library found it had to make cut backs in nearly every aspect of their operation in order to meet their target with the same $3.6 million they worked with last year.
"There is not much to say about this year's budget, other than we have struggled to conform to city guidelines," said library board chair Anne George. "We've achieved this by reducing furniture and equipment lines, eliminating any contingency items and, as you can see, we've made reductions in every line of the budget except for repairs and maintenance."
Coun. Murry Krause wondered how long the library could continue down the current path.
"It's very highly used - lots of traffic, furniture must wear out easily. My concern would be how long could you continue to do that without having a conversation about meeting those capital costs?" he asked.
But despite this year's grim outlook, chief librarian Allan Wilson was optimistic about the future.
"I think we realize over the next few years there's many other plans and positive developments in the city," Wilson said. "So I think it's systemic for us all to wait a little while. But I'm sure that 2015 and thereafter are going to bring great things to the city."
Budget deliberations will continue next Wednesday in council chambers beginning at 3:30 p.m.