The Committee of Responsible Electors (CORE) has released a response to the 2013 proposed budget for the Town of Golden.
The five-page response looks at different aspects of the proposed budget through the eyes of the group.
In their response the members of CORE said “CORE is concerned that the document 2013 Proposed Annual Budget intended to inform the public about the ensuing five year plan is inadequate. The summary of expenses utilizes very broad brush categories which are more puzzling that enlightening.”
“In essence, what we are trying to say, from a lay person’s point of view, to understand that budget so they can give meaningful comment is very difficult,” said CORE member Andrew Commons.
Commons added he hopes that moving forward the town staff will break down the finances in the budget so people in the community will have a basic grasp of where the money is being spent.
He believes that over time this will also be beneficial because it will allow specific comparisons to be made from year to year.
Another section of the document dealt with was General Government Services.
“We are talking about the actual cost of running the town hall,” Commons said.
He added that if the information was clearly stated, rather than being in one bulk grouping, then the public would be able to understand and question specific items, rather than being lost in the larger total.
“All this comes back to the point where the more information there is in the budget, everybody then has that information to make better decisions, or at least be able to advise council on what is going to be the better way to spend what is in essence our money, not their money,” he said. “What we have to be mindful of, at the end of the day, is that it is the easiest thing in the world to spend someone else’s money. Particularly when you have the ability to take that money, really whether they want to give it to you or not.”
The CORE was also concerned about the proposed tax increase in the budget.
“We have been spending beyond our means,” Commons said. “Over the last four or five years our expenditure has outstripped our income. Our view is that those savings should not have been depleted.”
The costs of staff working for the Town of Golden was also questioned in the release by the group.
The CORE said it had made the point previously that they consider the Town office overstaffed with managerial positions.
In the response, the group refers to a number of communities they claim are similar to Golden and do not have the same costs in staff.
Commons said that many business people in Golden that he knows have had to make cutbacks over the last few years, and the Town also needs to look at their staffing issues.
“We had to do this to survive. The difference for the Town is they have a moral issue to do that. You cannot just keep taking money from people because you’re not controlling your expenditures,” Commons said. “One thing we want to make crystal clear is that we totally understand the situation that every single job is very important to running any organization. But when we talk about addressing actual staff costs, what has happened over a numbers of years (this is not aimed at Golden) that it is the natural course for a business to move in a direction and that direction is forward or backwards. I mean that when things are going well, and there is lots of work to do, an organization expands.”
Commons went on and said that the economy and population in Golden is retracting.
He explained in business, when things are not going well, then sometimes the tough decision has to be made, and people have to be let go.
Commons said the group is hoping to work with the councillors, staff and the rest of the community moving forward.
The second reading of the 2013 proposed budget for the Town of Golden is supposed to be held at the next regular council meeting on March 19.
The Town of Golden has an Information Package that is also available in print at Town Hall and on the facebook page for the Town of Golden.
To learn more go to the Town of Golden webpage at www.golden.ca