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Council members will be looking for time to go over the first cut of the 2015 budget during the holidays.

burlbudgetBy Pepper Parr

December 15, 2014

BURLINGTON, ON.

 

There will be some heavy reading for the newly elected Council. Director of Finance Joan Ford is going to deliver a copy of the Budget book to Council members December 23rd. It is usually a thick publication.

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Citizens meeting at the Art Gallery and going over a budget that has basically been decided.  Burlington’s version of citizen engagement.

The Budget book will come in two versions; one based on the format used previously and another in the new Service Based Budget format that will focus on Results Based Accountability.

The city has done two surveys – asking people what they want in the way of services and what they are prepared to pay. There was a survey done with the members of the Insight Panel and another that could be answered by anyone who was prepared to take the time to go through the document.

Getting a grip on what the public wants and what the city can afford to spend is the challenge this year. In the past we heard Mayor Goldring put out a number on what he wanted to keep the tax rate increase at – he’s not said anything about what he wants to see for 2015.

At a previous meeting of the Corporate and Community Services Committee the Mayor did mention that “we are in the ditch to the tune of $2 million”.

Joan Ford, the city's Director of Finance knows where every dollar comes from and where every dollar gets spent.

Joan Ford, the city’s Director of Finance knows where every dollar comes from and where every dollar gets spent.  When the money she needs is not forthcoming – she refers to that as an “unfavourable variance”.

Director of Finance Joan Ford came back with a reply that only an accountant working for a bureaucracy would utter: Ford explained that the amount was not $2 million but $1.8 million and that it was an “unfavourable variance”.

Try that one in the private sector.

The shortfall is the result of delays in getting funds from the province to cover the cost of cleaning up after the ice storm LAST Christmas. The public sector does move at a different pace.

The early version of the claim the city was making on the province was for $2.9 million which included money spent by the Regional government. There was apparently a conversation between the city and the Region – suggesting perhaps that the Region do their own paper work?

It has been the city’s practice to hold a public meeting after the budget was basically set. A slick booklet was prepared for those taking part in the public meeting, usually held at the Art Gallery of Burlington.

City hall staff now realizes that the Burlington boundary doesn’t stop at the QEW and is looking into the possibility of holding public meetings at Tansley Woods and or at the Haber Recreation Centre.

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2 comments to Council members will be looking for time to go over the first cut of the 2015 budget during the holidays.

  • Peter Rusin

    The city should hold its meeting in the new office building they paid for which is owned by a private developer at Walkers Line and North Service Road. The $2M variance closely reflects the amount paid for the tenant relocation and legal costs as part of the overall $8M payment for the construction of the new 6-storey office building paid by tax money.

    • Tom Muir

      Can you please tell us more details of how this came to be? How about a process map?

      I thought the city got something for this, although I’m not saying the transaction was a wash.