Mayor gearing up for her 2025 budget

By Pepper Parr

April 4th, 2024



This is how a municipal budget gets put together when the Mayor uses the Strong Mayor Powers.

Council is being asked to:

Receive and file finance department report providing an update to the format of the 2025 budget documents and the preliminary 2025 Mayors budget approval timelines; and Direct the City Clerk to schedule a Special Council meeting on November 25, 2024 for the purpose of reviewing the Mayor’s proposed budget.

Section 284.16 of the Municipal Act, 2001 S.O. 2001, c. 25 outlines a statutory process for the approval of municipal budgets beginning with the presentation of the Mayor’s proposed budget, amendment of the proposed budget by City Council, veto of amendments by the Mayor and override of vetoes by City Council.

The general provisions of the Act regarding budgets are summarized below: Page 2 of Report Number: F-19-24

By February 1 of each year the Mayor must prepare and propose a budget to Council for consideration

Authority to prepare and propose the budget rests solely with Mayor

This authority cannot be delegated to Council or staff

Mayor can issue a staff direction for staff to prepare budget

Once the Mayor proposes a budget, Council has 30 (calendar) days to meet and pass budget amendments.

30-day period can be shortened by Council resolution

May require special council meeting to meet 30-day timeline

Following the amendment period, the Mayor has 10 (calendar) days to veto budget amendments passed by Council.

Mayor vetos must be set out through a Mayoral Decision and include reasons for veto.

Mayor can shorten veto period via a Mayoral Decision.

Budget amendments vetoed by Mayor are considered not to have been passed by Council

If veto power is not exercised, budget is deemed to have passed

Within 15 days of the veto period ending Council may meet to attempt to override Mayoral vetos.

Council override of Mayoral veto requires 2/3 super majority to pass.

After process of amendments, vetos and overrides has passed the budget is deemed to have been adopted.

Council no longer needs to vote on budget in its entirety.

Budget is considered to have been passively adopted once the approval process above has finished.

The following graphic outlines the key budget process steps as stipulated in the Act:

Mayoral Direction – Budget Development

As outlined earlier, under the provisions of the Act, the authority to propose a budget rests solely with the Mayor. However, a Mayoral direction can be issued for staff to undertake the work required to prepare a draft budget. In order to formalize this requirement for the 2025 budget, the Mayor will be issuing this Direction later this year.

 The staff process to inform the Mayor’s Proposed Budget will include:

 An extensive line by line review of the draft operating base budget submitted by each service will be conducted by the Acting Chief Financial Officer (CFO).

 An extensive review of the draft capital budget will be conducted by the Corporate Infrastructure Committee (CIC).

 Staff will prepare a Financial Needs and Multi-Year Forecast report which will be presented to Committee of the Whole in June. This report will outline key budget pressures and significant drivers as well as make recommendations for additional budget investments to address key risks, increase or enhance service levels or address operational challenges.

Draft Budget timelines

Further refinement of the 2025 budget process and timelines will be undertaken prior to reporting back to June COW including the opportunity to consider alternative service delivery priorities and multi-year budget impacts.

 Budget Motion Memorandums Forms

Similar to the process used in previous years, should a Member of Council wish to propose an amendment to the Mayor’s Proposed 2025 Budget, they are requested to prepare a Motion Memorandum. This memo will include the rationale for any proposed Page 4 of Report Number: F-19-24 budget amendment.

These Motion Memorandums will provide other members of Council and as well as the public, greater clarity as to why an amendment is being proposed and the rationale for the budget change request.

Motion Memorandums are due to Finance by 4:30 pm on November 11, 2024, to allow sufficient time for inclusion into the Budget Committee agenda of November 18, 2024. These Motion Memorandums will form the basis for the agenda to review the Mayor’s 2025 Proposed Budget.

 Revised Budget Book Format

The 2024 budget approval process was a year of transition given that the Province of Ontario only extended Strong Mayor Powers to Burlington on July 1, 2023. As this change occurred well into the budget development process there was limited time to make significant alterations to the process.

As a result, the traditional staff proposed budget was renamed to the Financial Needs and Multi-year Forecast and the budget book was aligned with those figures.

The Mayor used this document for reference purposes when preparing the Budget and outlined in a table the differences between the Financial Needs and Multi-year Forecast and the Mayor’s Proposed Budget.

We heard from members of Council and the public that this reconciliation between the two items was extremely detailed and cumbersome to manage. Additionally, we heard that the overall length of the budget book at over 730+ pages was not user friendly as a review document.

As a result of this feedback two significant changes will be made for the 2025 Budget process.

When the Financial Needs and Multi-year Forecast is presented at June COW, it will include a comprehensive staff report and presentation but will not include a lengthy reference document. When the Mayor’s Proposed budget is presented, it will include a detailed budget book fully aligned to those figures.

The format of the budget book will be condensed. Service Business Plans will no longer be included in the budget book but will be replaced with streamlined content focusing on current service delivery and operations, emerging opportunities and risks, key service investments and an operational financial summary of the service-based budget. Also included for each service will be headline measures which demonstrate and depict service performance. Finally, the 10-year capital investments will be included at the service level.

A sample of the revised budget book content for a single service is set out below.



Financial Matters:

The approved 2024 Budget invested $346.2M into delivering city services to the community and $88.6M into the capital program to renew aging infrastructure and invest in new community assets.

The budget process provides a venue in which decisions are aligned and made to ensure an appropriate balance between affordability, maintaining/enhancing service levels and financial sustainability is achieved over the long term.

The Financial Needs and Multi-year Forecast will be prepared to recognize key budget drivers including ongoing inflationary pressures as well as investments required to stabilize service delivery. It will also make recommendations for increased funding to key areas to address the needs of our growing community.

This Financial Needs and Multi-year forecast will inform the Mayor with detailed information while providing sufficient time to prepare her 2025 Proposed Budget.

 Climate Implications:

A plaza was seriously flooded in 2014 – expectation is that there will be flooding in the years ahead due to climate change.

The impacts of a changing climate can have a significant impact on the City’s budget. For example, increasing extreme weather events such as wind, freezing rain, extreme heat and cold can result in operational expenditures due to clean-up costs, more frequent emergency response and recovery efforts, and unbudgeted impacts to infrastructure requiring repairs and/or replacement.

Similarly, efforts to mitigate climate change can have a budgetary impact. Investments in renewable energy, electric vehicle charging infrastructure and public transit help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

 Engagement Matters:

The city will continue to use existing online engagement tools such as survey opportunities on

Will the public choose to take part in budget deliberations the way they used to – or with apathy become the norm?

A Budget Townhall is also planned for November 6, 2024.

The results of all public engagement will be reported back to Council as part of the Mayor’s Proposed Budget and in advance of the budget review process.

The Open Book platform will also be used to present the budget and allow the public to view the budget data in an interactive and intuitive format.

A communications strategy will also be developed in conjunction with the presentation of the Proposed Budget.

 This reported presents preliminary 2025 Budget approval timelines as well as outlines an update to the format of the budget book documents.


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