After a change to the 5-year financial plan at the previous week’s Standing Committee on Finance meeting to increase the remuneration to mayor and council, the committee (made up of council), has decided to reallocate the way that money is dispersed.
“Personally I’m a little uncomfortable with it,” said Mayor Ron Oszust, who would have seen a $10,000 increase to what he was making. “If we feel that there is room in the budget to spend $10,000 I’d sooner see it go to a communications budget.”
The increase in remuneration to both mayor and council totalled $25,000. Committee decided to move those funds into “contract and services” within the budget, where they have more flexibility regarding how to spend that money. There was some discussion surrounding using those funds to compensate councillors for longer meetings, or out of town conferences (where they are missing work) as opposed to adding it to their “salary.”
The discussion will be continued at a later date when more councillors are present (Councillors Caleb Moss, Connie Barlow and Bruce Fairley were absent).
Although Fairley was absent for the meeting, he sent in an email reiterating his concerns about two items on the budget. The first was regarding the recreation budget, which has seen an increase due to the fact that the department has taken on the operations of the Mount 7 Rec Plex.
Although it was agreed that council should be discussing what a reasonable rate of return should be on Golden’s recreation facilities at a later date (possibly during their strategic planning sessions), the rest of council did not support a decrease in recreation.
“What I heard when I was campaigning is that people want more recreation services, not less,” said Coun. Leslie Adams.
The second was the inclusion of a full-time bylaw officer, which has always been an item in the municipal budget. Fairley questioned whether the position was necessary for a community of this size.
CAO Jon Wilsgard said that not only is the position valuable to the municipality in various ways, but with a new provincial bylaw system being set up, Golden will start seeing stronger returns through their bylaw enforcement, especially through violation penalties.
The Standing Committee on Finance also decided what to do with the remaining funds for years 2016-2019.
After looking through all of the capital projects that are currently not funded, they decided that their best option was to put all remaining funds into the Asset Renewal Reserve, where they will be able to decide at a later date what their priorities should be.
The 5-year financial plan will be going to first reading at the council meeting on March 24. Changes can still be made after first reading.