Well for the most part, they got it right, they just don’t like the route taken to get to where they got.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON April 20, 2011 – Just about everyone who sat through the 2011 Budget Orientation sessions (they were brutal) and then the actual fashioning of the budget agrees that there has to be a better way to do these things.

Council and staff would like more public input and they want spending to be based on a clearly understood longer term plan. That couldn’t happen for 2011 because the Strategic Plan wasn’t in place. The desire is for specific performance measurements which focuses on service delivery outcomes. In other words – are we getting what we are paying for.

This Council is not going to have a Strategic Plan in place until sometime in September and while the hope is the plan will identify the directions for this term of council, Mayor Rick Goldring “believes preparation must begin now to affect future budgets” and he presented a Staff Direction which was accepted by the Budget and Corporate Services Committee. Here is what they are setting out to do:

That staff be directed to conduct a budget debrief with members of Council and staff for the purpose of identifying levels of satisfaction and areas of improvement for 2012 and report back to Council in June 2011. This is not an evaluation on the results of the budget but rather the process, timelines, public input and methodology.

That staff be directed to provide Committee with a report no later than September 2011 outlining the key deliverables, timelines, cost and resources required to develop and implement performance-based budgeting and reporting for the City of Burlington as it relates to the Strategic Goals and Objectives.

The observation with this Staff Direction is that the people who managed the whole process are the people who are going to carry out the review. Whoever debriefs the Council members will certainly get an earful and someone will churn out a report that lays out all the concerns.

How then do the people who managed the Budget process last time around take the concerns and do it all differently (and hopefully more efficiently) next time. More than a majority of the Council members will say they did not like the way they had to dig and dig for information and that there were too many surprises and that there were Briefings that were tedious, self serving and not necessary.

Will the Executive Budget Committee hear what they are told and return with a process and understandable procedures to allow this Council, which is working quite effectively, come in with a tax increase of less than 1% tax next year?



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