On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to attend the town council budget meeting. Not only was it informative, but I was happy to get a glimpse into how our town really makes decisions.
Many issues were brought up during the evening, but one in particular stood out.
After evaluating many expenditures proposed by the administration, council pointed out that the budget was in the target of a 3.5% increase, so potential expenditures should be approved.
I would like to point out that the true increase is not actually in the target range for two specific reasons:
1) The operating budget is at a deficit of 260,000, which needs to be drawn from reserves. In order for the budget to be sustainable, this amount needs to be added to revenues.
2) Some of the additional 13 positions added are prorated for 6 months and 9 months, depending on when council thinks they will be able to find suitable candidates. These positions will not be going away, so an additional 164,000 in calculated salary costs should be added to the ‘sustainable’ budget.
These two issues alone mean that property taxes would have to be raised 6.6% in order to keep a sustainable budget. Morinville ran a surplus in 2010, so these numbers translate into a more than 26% increase in expenses, matched by only a 5% projected increase in revenues. It’s entirely possible that Morinville requires this massive increase in expenses, but it’s important that the council and community both know the real numbers of the 2011 budget.
The final approval of the 2011 budget is on Tuesday, December 14th, you can see for yourself whether council thinks a 26% increase in expenses is justifiable.