Budget ruminations

We are not the only ones navel gazing contemplating the budget. Here are some thought from David Daniels.

Here are some general and specific comments on 2010-2011 Budget.
It would be helpful if there was specific information about how the budget reflects the corporate strategy and prior public input.  You state at the outset that this is so, but it would be informative if the public saw how this is so.  Also, the Council has come up with a list of priorities.  If these have been incorporated or made use of, in making budget decisions it would be informative to see this.
As I point out below, last year had “actuals” and these are missing from this year’s draft budget.  Such actuals might be helpful in explaining some of the changes between last year’s budget and this years proposed budget.
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Page 5: “Reduced REMO”. what is “REMO”?
Page 6: Are there other ways to show tax burden comparables?  How about spending patterns compared to other municipalities?
Page 12: It would be helpful to see figures on the number of employees in other towns.  Although it may be difficult to compare because of the university in the Town, certain Town services may be more a function of population or geographic area.  For example, town roads to be maintained.
Page 12: Are RCMP officers included in the 32 permanent full time staff?
Page 12:  It appears that the increase in staff costs is over 5.5% based upon $111,813/2,014,691.  Can you break down the reasons for the increases.  5.5% is greater than than last years CPI.  According to Statistics Canada, the Consumer Prices rose 1.6% in the 12 months to February 2010.  What was the contract increase for the RCMP?
Page 14:  In view of the the objective in the Corporate Strategy to “improve [] communication with people – improved budgeting process” in footnotes explain generally what “Environmental Development” and “Environmental Health Services” entail.
Page 14:  The cost of Protective Services is proposed to decrease this year.  General Governmental and Admin. Expenditures has increased by over 7% from last year’s budget.    Are the particular items that contributed to this increase?
Page 15:  I have a copy of Appendix II from the 2009-2010 Operating Budget.  It has a column with “Balance At March 31, 09 Unaudited”.  It would be very useful to have similar information regarding what was actually spent in the past fiscal year.
Page 15:  Public Health Services expenditures increased year to year by over 44%.  It would be helpful if footnotes explain increases which cannot be explained by simple CPI increases.
Page 15:  The budget for Protective Services has decreased.  Assuming the RCMP officers have received a year to year pay increase, what explains the decrease?  Also, is there a difference between the pay increases received by RCMP officers versus other Town employees?
Page 16:  Is this budget taking steps to address the long term infrastructure deficit in addition to those mentioned on this page, and if so, how?
Page 21:  There was a decrease in contribution to Valley Waste Management of over $35,000.00.  I recall that this decrease was the result of the VWA making final payments on long term bonds.
Page 22:  There is no reference in funding for school to the ongoing lawsuit which I understand could drastically change the amount the Town must pay.  It would be useful information if the budget addressed this issue.  Is the Town doing something to prepare for this possible eventuality?  If not, then why not?
Page 28:  Again, it would helpful and informative if the budget provided for actuals rather than just last years budget numbers.
Page 29:  Regarding Day Camp Fees and After School Camp Fees.  I recall from prior meetings that former Director Andrew Fry mentioned that collection of these fees was not going as anticipated last year.  Is that the reason why there is a decrease year to year, or are fewer children participating or are the fees less or a combination of these factors?  Is anything being done to help children in families who may not be able to afford the fees?
Page 30:  Why the decrease in Provincial Court Fines?  This may be explained by actuals, but without these figures, it is hard to tell.
Page 32:  What does “sp” in “sp allowance” mean?
Page 32:  Administrative salaries has increased by over 15%.
Page 32:  Legal fees was budgeted last year to $28,000.00 and this year to $50,000.00.  What were the actual legal fees for last year?  I assume the increase is due to ongoing school litigation.  But it would be helpful if the Town provided more information to better communicate with the residents.
Page 33:  Communication budget is going from $4,000.00 to $15,000.00 and money for Consultants is going from $18,000.00 to $10,000.00.
Page 34: Contingency funding is going from about $9,500.00 to slightly more than $25,000.00.
Page 35:  Police legal is going from $5,000.00 to $15,000.00.
Page 44:  Under Planning and Zoning – Legal: $12,500.00.   What is the figure based upon?
Page 45: $3,000.00 to Farmers Market.
Page 47:  Recreation Services Manager: $33,590 to $40,103.
Page 51:  After School Camp Labour: $10,320 to $23,500.00.

Some of these we could have answered but at least he is asking questions; we suppose he asked at least some of these at the public input meeting this evening.

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One response to “Budget ruminations

  1. On the cover page they say “Moving to Sustainability”. Sustainability of what, pray tell? Turn a couple of pages and all is revealed. Why, how surprising, they’re Sustaining Increased Taxation…

    Never mind folks, on page 2 we are told how the budget “goes far beyond” provincial requirements and how fortunate we all are to get such “a level of service not normally provided by municipalities [of] our size”. Indeed, His Munificence has spoken — we are truly blessed.