Town of Golden Council voted to move the 5-Year Financial Plan to second reading after a detailed presentation from Chief Financial Officer Lisa Vass during a special open council meeting on March 12.
Coun. Keith Hern opposed the motion, stating that more work needed to be done to cut expenditures.
“The Town needs to review its overall corporate expenses, staff expenses, and its contracted services expenses. I don’t think we have tackled those important issues,” said Hern, adding that a restructured staff would make a big difference to the bottom line.
“I believe we can tackle those issues without a decline in services.”
“I’m confident enough to support the motion to move to second and third reading,” said Coun. Caleb Moss. The feedback that Moss has personally heard is more about an increase in service, than it is about cutting expenditures.
During the regular council meeting on March 5, the public feedback that council heard centred around the lack of information in the budget book. Vass has been in the CFO position for a year and a half now, and has been working hard to allow for more disclosure.
She has begun giving Town managers monthly reports, and is already researching how she would like to format the budget book next year. And for the special open meeting on March 12, she presented a line-by-line budget that included expenses, reductions, as well as the state of the Town’s reserves.
The proposed budget includes a two per cent tax increase, which will go into a dedicated Asset Renewal Reserve to replace aging infrastructure in the future.
Coun. Hern says this proposal is misleading to the public, as he believes it implies that overall reserves will be going up.
“There’s a two per cent tax, but it’s a misrepresentation to say that they’re going to reserve funds,” he said. “I think you’re playing with the numbers.”
Both statutory and non-statutory reserves are divided into a number of individual reserves, some of which will be drawn on in the coming year.
From the last day of 2012, to the last day of 2013, reserves will decline slightly, but the dedicated Asset Renewal Reserve will only be added to.
Second and third reading of the budget took place on March 19. Council is operating on a tight timeline, as the budget must be adopted by the second meeting in April.
The more detailed version of the budget book is now available at www.golden.ca.