Day 1 of Brooks Budget Deliberations

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City Council opened their budget deliberations today to the press and public. Here is what you need to know about the municipal budget from day one.

1.       Budgets don’t build themselves: The City Administration proposes a budget based on the pressure and challenges they see on the front-lines every day. This includes fixed expenses as well as a wish list of variable expenses for council to consider.

2.       Once Administration presents its budget, Mayor and Council have the opportunity to ask questions, seek clarification, agree or seek changes to staff’s recommendations. That is why we have been asked not to report on the proposed numbers (ie, because they could change before the proposed budget is finalized and published for public comment).

3.       Once deliberations are over, the City will post the proposed budget document on its webpage for the public to review and provide feedback.

So, while respecting City Administration’s request that we not report specific numbers, here’s what we learned today:

The City has 24 Departments (20 that draw from the tax-base and 4 that are supported through their own revenue).

In addition to city duties, Mayor there are 31 additional Board, Committees or Commissions in which 1 or more councilor is appointed to. Mayor and Councilors are compensated for their time attending the majority of these meetings in addition to their base salaries.

Taxes went down last year by 1.68%. The budget as presented proposes an increase in taxes and fees. Here are some of the fiscal pressures being faced by the city:

1.       A flat property tax assessment.

2.       The RCMP requires an upgrade to the Alberta First Responder Radio System.

3.       Grant funding for some items like the Safe Communities Facilitator was not renewed, so the funds need to be found locally for this position or it cannot continue.

4.       The city-owned Prairie Pioneers Building (aka – the old library) has rotten windows and some mold issues.

5.       JBS Canada Storage Tank Piping Reconfiguration

6.       A consultant-completed housing needs assessment

7.       Legal Costs relating to negotiating a new collective agreement with city staff

8.       New health and safety software for city staff

9.       Third-party “turf irrigation” contracts

10.   Transportation masterplan / asset management

In total the administration has proposed 32 “decision package” items in addition to their base budget. If you want to know more, drop by the Heyes Room at city hall between 8-12 and 9-5 to listen in and see the draft budget for yourself. Too busy running your business? Feel Free to check in with us at the Chamber later on today or early tomorrow for another update.

 

NOTE: An earlier version of this blog post had identified #5 as "Repairs to the Newly-Renovated JBS Center." We have since learned that the repairs are being made to the boilers that were part of the old building and not part of the renovation.

Posted on:
Tuesday, December 19, 2017