Town of Golden council looks to increase reserves, maintain level of service with next budget

Submitted

Increasing reserves to provide funding for renewal of Town of Golden assets and maintaining the community’s levels of services are again a few of the top priorities in the Town’s proposed 2019-2023 financial plan.

Find out more about these items, the budget process, and why community engagement is so important at the 2019-2023 financial plan open house on Tuesday, January 29 in council chambers at town hall, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

At the December 18 regular open council meeting, the mayor and council passed the first reading of the proposed five-year financial plan.

Council is targeting a one-time-only 6.75 per cent budget increase for 2019. This increase will ensure that the municipality not only keeps up with inflation and maintains service levels, but also allows for a few operational and safety related projects that have lingered for many years to be completed.

In addition, funds continue to be put into reserves for infrastructure renewal. With the federal government indicating large amounts of infrastructure grants arriving over the next several years, council is determined to meet the financial contribution amounts required to take advantage of these opportunities while avoiding long term borrowing for as long as possible.

“We really needed to put some old projects to bed, and council feels that with a significant amount of added assessment value through new development over the past year, we have the ability to get this done without a significant impact to taxpayers,” says Mayor Ron Oszust. “Public consultation presents an opportunity for residents to voice concerns or recommendations to the Town prior to the budget being approved.”

Official budget planning started in August, 2018 at a staff level, and in early November, it began to be debated by the Standing Committee of Finance, which includes the mayor and all members of council, and is the meeting format used for budget planning. It is set up to focus on the annual budget process, leaving regular open council meetings for day-to-day, ongoing Town business.

After many hours in meetings, council has come up with its proposed five-year financial plan, understanding that it is the first year of the bylaw (2019) that is legally binding with the four following years being projections.

The bylaw therefore serves as a roadmap for how money will be spent in the coming years.

First reading was given on December 18, and now it is time for the community to provide constructive feedback on what is being proposed.

“Going forward, we must identify our infrastructure and service delivery needs while maintaining the public’s trust and confidence that their tax dollars are being spent wisely,” says Mayor Ron Oszust. “Doing so also means we need to contribute to our community’s well-being, through responsible taxation.”

The municipality uses an open house a forum to discuss the budget and the various services provided.

Staff from all departments will be on hand to explain existing services, and upcoming projects. The event is a forum for face-to-face conversations about issues that are important to everyone.

“This is a chance for the community to learn about the different services Golden offers and what the Council’s direction is for 2019 and beyond, by asking questions and providing us feedback,” says CAO Jon Wilsgard.

On January 29, town council and staff encourage everyone to get involved and drop by council chambers at town hall between 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. The event is open to everyone.

Stay tuned for the next chapter of the budget 2019 series.

The Town of Golden is committed to bringing you the whole budget story throughout the public consultation process. You can view the proposed financial plan by visiting our website or in hard copy at Town Hall.

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