Steamed over the Budget

The more we look at the proposed budget the more steam comes out our ears! The proposed increase in expenditures in the new budget is an astounding $525,143 to bring the total proposed expenditures to a crippling $6,740,211 ! Isn’t that huge for a town the size of Wolfville?

And what do they intend to spend these extra bucks on? Here are a few highlights:

2 new positions – one in Public Works and a Tech support person for PW, Planning and IT to the tune of $80,000 Seems to us the number of Town of Wolfville employees is increasing at triple the rate of the Town itself!

Lets look at Operational Expenditures by Dept.: In Gen. Govt. Office – “supplies, advertising,  communications, promotional materials, & net hst” is going up  from the actual spent last year of $76,595  to $90,600 an increase of 18.3%. We think $76,000 should be more than enough don’t you? (Communications alone is up from $8,796 to $15,000) This is in addition to the “Supplies and advertising” we see under Planning Services which is going up from $18,223 spent last year to $31,312 – that’s a 40% increase.
Looking at Business Services we see Administration salaries and benefits up from $27,726 last yr. to $62,500. Office and Administration (which includes professional development, conferences, & travel) up $4,000. A new Business Development Study is added on for an additional $30,000.(We don’t need $30,00 to tell the town to just stop taxing business to death.) This Business Service dept’s total increase is a  proposed $80,000!
In the Fiscal Services Dept. we note that there is a contingency fund of $30,000 This was budgeted at $17,052 last year but $0 was spent so why not just budget 17M again? Why increase it to $30M?  We could go on and on.

What are they NOT spending on? We notice donations to the VON and Valley Regional Health are exactly the same as last year. Tsunami relief got a paltry$1M, Heritage and Culture up only $1M, Crosswalk guards up $1M, Valley Housing Authority up less than $4M, Recreation up less than $9M, Fire Dept. up only about $8M.

But at least they are paving the streets right? You might think so since the Public Works Dept was over budget by more than $25M last year and they’ve proposed to give them that plus an extra $60 M to  overspend this year. That’s $85M more than budgeted last year. But we note that the Holiday/Vacation line is going from $13,022 to $41,000, Communications is going up from $3,507 to $5,500, Information Service is up from $6,530 to $11,500  and something called Special Services is up from 0 to $5,000.

$5,276 was spent last year on sidewalk repair and only $5,000 is budgeted this year, curbing repairs up only $1,400 and street patching gets no increase. Similarly street markings, curb sodding and street lighting see no increases. Snow removal labour is up less than $2M and trucking snow is down so don’t expect your street to be plowed sooner.

Our overall impression is that money is being overspent on optics and top heavy administration while expenditure that actually benefits townspeople is a low priority.  We sure hope the Mayor and Council send this back to the CAO with a D- mark and instructions to try again.

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