Zero-Based Budgeting & Restricted Funds
There is no question that Council needs to address the excessive expense growth that has been occurring for many years. Council needs to take specific concrete steps to reverse the tendency for excessive annual expense growth and eliminate the possibility of budget padding.
First and foremost Council needs to introduce a Zero-Based Budget process for the 2023 budget preparation process and not be intimidated by staff who will argue vigorously that it is just too difficult and time consuming. Essentially each department will create a budget starting with a clean sheet of paper and tie each line item to a function that will be performed during the 2023 budget year.
In addition Council needs to provide clear rules for budget management and eliminate the ability for budget managers to use funds on projects other than the purpose for which they were appropriated. For example, if Transit appropriates funds to cover the bus contract costs, as it did this year, the budget manager cannot use these funds for anything other than the bus contract. Currently staff has the ability to move money around at will. In this regard I was recently told, from a reliable source, that $50,000 in capital funds were approved a few years ago to install bollards along the road in Harrison Park to prevent cars from parking on the grass. The bollards weren't install and the funds were used on some other project. The following year Council approved another $50,000 in capital funds to install the same bollards. Council needs to put an end to this misappropriation of funds - taxpayers can't afford it!