"Cowardice asks the question...is it safe? Expediency asks the question...is it politic? Vanity asks the question...is it popular? But conscience asks the question...is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because it is right." ~Dr. Martin Luther King

Friday, 7 November 2014

The Budget Process

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Hell...No":

I would like to see a line by line budget process one of these years. I don’t think that’s ever been done. If it has I've never read or heard about it. Evelyn…has that ever been odone ?

Posted by Anonymous to Our Town and Its Business at 7 November 2014 12:05


The main thrust of financial  advice to Council was contained  in the Town's promotion on Rogers during the election.

An affluent community.  Highly educated ..... average family income ...such and such high. 

At some point Council would be advised how many pennies a day the  recommended  tax increase  represented.

The tax increase does not reflect increase in spending.

Assessment  revenue increases annually. Supplementary assessment is  increased revenue.

It can be as much as 2  tax points. If the tax increase is 2% and revenue  increases by 2% .The  Increase in spending is 4%,

Increases in water and sewer rates in the double digits are never included in the published tax

Water and sewer and miscellaneous , being storm water pond management, are a service.
The rates are a tax like all the rest.  Therefore the annual increase for tax supported services is  artificially deflated and distorted. Knowingly and deliberately.

Senior levels of government have established  a fund to share gas tax revenue. It's an increase in general revenues.  It helps to pay for municipal services and obscure actual spending.

Many factors are obscured in the budget process . The Province has taken responsibility for increases in cost of education for at least the last fifteen years.

Education used  to be the second to the Region's share of the tax bill.
 It is now the lowest share at 21%

Financial advice  to Council is thatnthe Province wanted to provide municipalities with more "tax room" Meaning more money to spend.

The town's  share of the tax bill is now in second place and exceeds what the school board's share used to be.

School  boards have considerably less autonomy  than formerly. The  real cost of education is hidden in provincial budgets.

Many things are obscured in the municipal budget.

Costs of  severances  for example. When a long term employee's  job is eliminated or

otherwise manipulated, severances can be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.. Councilors are not informed unless  there is litigation and perhaps not always then.

Jobs are  eliminated and created under the heading of "re-organization." Consultants are hired to produce data to support the  decision. Councillors don't have to exercise their minds .  It's all taken for them.

Inquiry is labelled micro-managing. Persistence is labelled  obstructionism or negativity.


Anonymous said...

Thank you, Evelyn, for the clarifications. I am hoping to see a noticeable improvement in the budget process after some of the door-step conversations with both new and old members of council.
Doesn't mean I am not interested - just watchful.

Anonymous said...

I watched a taped budget meeting this past term. It was an eye-opener for me & I will be better prepared future ones.

Anonymous said...

I think it is disingenuous to talk about taxes as though these are the sole culprit.

Most national governments have created perpetual deficits, with no intention to ever pay these in full. Increases or decreases in deficits can be good or bad depending on the state of a nation's economy. During the past several years many countries increased their deficits in an attempt to reactivate dormant economies. Central banks printed trillions of dollars or equivalent to stimulate economic activity and in the process created an interest rate that not only approached zero, but in several cases went below it, The affect of all this has seen numerous multi-national companies increase their cash holdings into the multi-billion dollar level. Until the stagnant economy starts to show some sign of life companies do not wish to invest in new plant facilities and actually sell bond issues in order to raise even greater piles of cash at low cost for a rainy day.

And what has happened to people living on fixed income investments? They are suffering severely.

The provincial government mandates certain responsibilities and activities upon its municipalities just as the federal government does upon the provinces.

The national or provincial or municipal "GDP" is theoretically the sum total of all goods and services created by society. But some are artificially created, like a development cost on a new house that the builder pays to the town and the home-buyer pays to the builder. This is neither a good nor a service - it is a tax upon the cost price of a new home but it doesn't appear on the municipality's books as a taxation revenue item. Rather it goes into a completely separate account out of which the municipality spends money for a Joint Operation Centre, for example. There is no tax money going into this building.

I doubt if very many councillors really understand the town budget what with various contingency funds, various reserve funds, accruals and provisions and over-statement and under-statement and tax rebates and refunds. Town water leaks so what is the true cost of providing water?

I think that councillors are in thrall to the Treasurer and his staff just as we are in thrall to councillors.

The whole thing is a giant shell game but so long as the annual tax increase is "reasonable" those who pay don't scream too loud.

Anonymous said...

There was a fair amount of self-justification about spending required of the incumbents during the election. I do not think they will wish to repeat that. The next time, their opposition might not be so horribly incompetent.

Anonymous said...

Why not, 17:01? It got them (-1) re-elected, didn't it?

I'm not sure where all this naysayer and'forewarned' stuff is coming from in the wake of the election. Those members of council that are returning received validation of their positions. They got affirmation from the electorate (well, those that bothered to vote) that they're on the right track.

Anonymous said...

There has to be something between throwing the budget back onto the Treasurer's Desk with the demand for a total re-write and just picking away at the edges to look knowledgeable.

Anonymous said...

I voted for E and a few fresh faces,. At the top, it was the better of the alternatives. That is not validation or even affirmation.

Anonymous said...

So a line by line budget process has never been done in Aurora, because if it does... all hell will break loose.

Anonymous said...

Me too. It's called sullen acquiescence.

Anonymous said...

17:43 Your assessment is correct. It is difficult to understand why many are questioning it.

The process reminds we of two adages: the scoreboard does not lie, and secondly, past performance is the best indicator of future performance.

Anonymous said...

What are you smoking ?
Name a council where such a thing happens.

Anonymous said...

A line by line budget? Or all hell breaking loose? I don't think either has happened yet. The term "transparency" isn't exactly in a budget process.

Anonymous said...

So, 19:33, you voted for also-rans.

Anonymous said...

It is interesting. Those who lost, both here and in Newmarket, are blaming the uninformed electorate. I would lay the onus on badly run campaigns which frightened possible supporters.
And I am not including Evelyn in that list of whiners.

Anonymous said...

11:37- Based on the voter turnout, the electorate is uniformed or really don’t care or maybe even both. Both winners and losers in these elections really shouldn’t be jumping up for joy. Millions of tax $’s are being spent. Hours of hard work is being done. Being a politician or would be politician consumes family lives….and for what?... To see approx. 1/3 of the electorate care enough about their community to maybe make a difference! I’m disappointed that Evelyn wasn't able to make it back on council. But if only a piddley 1/3 of people got up from their asses to vote after all that she’s done and has gone through. I find that even more disappointing.