Council approves earlier budget process with more public participation

by Colin Smith

Development of Morinville’s annual budget will begin earlier and allow for more public participation, as a result of Town Council’s adoption of the 2016 Planning and Budget Process timelines at its regular meeting Apr. 28.

“The time lines provide marker posts for Council and Administration…places where we need to be at specific times,” said Financial Services Director Andrew Isbister. “It also allows the public to become engaged in the process.

“While we had followed a timeline in the past, it was not formalized.”

Council approval of the timelines follows its review of the general planning and budget process used in the preparation of the 2015 Annual Operating Budget and Capital Plan at a Committee of the Whole meeting April 21. The 2015 budget was passed last December.

Beginning with the revision and approval of the budget process, the timelines set out a series of steps to be followed by Council and Administration, beginning in May and culminating with final approval of the 2016 Budget in late November.

According to the operational planning timeline, by the end of June Administration will have updated budget workbooks and salary costs, and estimated tax, grant and other revenues. It will also identify required staff changes and assign salaries, staff changes, operating projects and revenues to departments.

During August, departments will use the workbooks to prepare the 2016 operating budget, with a consolidated budget draft to be completed by the end of the month. Administration will review the draft budget with Council, sitting as committee of the whole, in the middle of September.

The draft budget, along with the three-year strategic and five-year capital plans, is scheduled to come before council for first reading on September 22.

Open houses and a public hearing on the document will take place in October.

Second reading of the budget and plans, at which amendments can be made, will take place Nov. 10, and its third reading and passage is planned for Nov. 24.

Council will review the 2016 budget process in December before the Christmas break.

Along with the operations budget, Council and the Administration will be working to a timeline to review and update Morinville’s Municipal Sustainability Plan, the three-year strategic plan and the five-year and 25-year capital plans.

Administration prepared the 2016 Planning and Budget Process Timelines after reviewing the requirements of the Municipal Government Act, along with Town documents and the recommendations from the Organizational Review Council included in the 2014 Budget.

The timelines will be posted on the Town of Morinville website.

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