Council beavers away at reducing spending – has $2.7 million left over from last year – which they aren’t going to give back.

By Pepper Parr

February 22, 2014

BURLINGTON, ON.

When they brought things to a closer on Thursday we had a CURRENT budget of $134,339,651 agreed upon at the Standing Committee and a tax increase of 3.9%.  Staff had asked for a tax increase of 4.3%

Council may whittle down the staff budget request when they resume budget deliberations early in March.  At that time they get to decide what they want to do with the $2.7 million surplus – money not spent in 2013.  The finance staff call these “retained savings”.

Photoshopping at its very best – the Significant Seven have never got along as much as this photograph would suggest.  Several of then can’t stand one another.  Mayor has said he would be quite happy to see them all re-elected.

What has council done so far?  The Cultural Manager was off the table, the Museums of Burlington got the contract person onto the staff roster.  The Economic development people got their money but there were some strings attached.

An assistant supervisor for school crossing guards wasn’t approved but the Heritage Burlington property tax rebate did get the green light it was looking for.  The Performing Arts Centre is going to get a closer look.

Bus cleaners were going to get $65,000 a year but they would be doing other work as well

Community Development Halton did get the $85,000 they were seeking (they got the same amount last year) but Councillor Taylor had to promise that he would not be asking for the same amount of money next year. 

Of the 47 items that council members wanted to discuss – less than 20 got covered – so there is quite a lot of ground to cover.

On Monday the 24th, Council meets as the Development and Infrastructure committee.

Tuesday they meet as the Community and Corporate Services committee.

Thursday they do a significant session as a Committee of the Whole and focus on just where we are with the Economic Development Corporation – which is, as one real estate professional in the city put it a “disastrous embarrassment”. The economic development chicken has finally come home to roost. 

The first week of March council meets on the 4th to complete the budget review and hopefully approve the document and set the tax rate for 2014.

For some reason the budget agendas this year have had the feel of a bit of a hustle to them.  Usually a Standing Committee meets and recommends a budget, the public gets a few days to read, review and reflect on the document and if there are serious concerns people can delegate at the Council meeting that will approve the budget.

This year the Standing Committee will turn itself into a Council meeting and pass the budget on the spot.  We don’t see much community engagement in that process.  For Councillors who are up for re-election one would think they would be a little more solicitous and ensure the public gets a chance to voice their opinions.  Guess you are all going to have to wait to make your opinion known on election day – October 27th.

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