What are municipal reserves for?

Are Golden's depleted reserves a sign of irresponsible governance?

The Town of Golden Council is currently in the process of passing their 2013 budget.

Money is always a controversial issue, so it is no surprise that the Town budget is drawing its fair share of criticism. Council heard numerous residents tell them at the last council meeting that they are spending too much on staff (actually they are spending too much period), and they they have spent too much from their reserves.

This second arguement confuses me. What exactly are the reserves for?

Reserve funds, or “savings,” are there for a reason. Families put money in their savings for two reasons – to have money as a safety net for when times are bad, or for an anticipated future expense, such as a vacation, new car, or down payment on a home.

Is a municipality any different?

Their reserve funds are there to get the Town through tough times, or for projects that add to the community.

According to Mayor Christina Benty, the main reason that Golden’s reserve funds are depleted, is because the past few years have seen a number of projects completed, such as the Spirit Square, the Civic Centre, the skateboard park, and the spray park, among many others.

The Town saved the money, and then spent it on projects.

Talk around town is that this is somehow a sign of irresponsible governance, and that the Town is not living within its means.

Would a family be called irresponsible for draining their savings to buy a new car?

Only if they don’t turn around and start building their savings back up again.

So the question of Golden living within its means cannot be answered by what it has done, but what it does from here on out.