by Tristan Turner
Council received their quarterly financial/service update from Administration during the June 9 meeting of Council.
So far the Town is significantly under budget. Both revenues and expenses are higher and lower, respectively than expected. As of the end of the first quarter, the Town had approximately $770,000 more than they anticipated, with an increase in projected revenue and less in expenses for programs and contracted services. Part of the explanation for this discrepancy was rapid development and growth in town, as well as a pattern of Town administration making conservative estimates when it comes to their budgets.
Deputy Mayor Barry Turner said he would have liked to have received this report earlier, saying that it is near the end of the second quarter, and Council has just received the 1st quarter update.
CFO Andrew Isbister said the report was delayed due to it being a particularly busy time of year with wrapping up the previous year’s budget, the current year’s budget, and the planning for next year all coalescing. He said future quarterly reports would be moving faster.
CAO Debbie Oyarzun and CFO Andrew Isbister also informed Council that the Town will be utilizing a new online service called OpenGov in the future that will allow Council, and eventually the public, to review expenditures and get budget updates much faster. The service will be used first internally just for Administration and will be rolled out to Council and eventually the public.
But the quarterly report was not the only timing of information the Deputy Mayor took issue with.
It was also revealed in response to a question by Councillor Boutestein that the community bus is nearly ready for public use and that it has come in under budget. As a result, some more amenities were added for public users. These include a more thorough heating system and charging stations for smart devices in public seats, as well as a more powerful 1,000-pound lift for better access for mobility-restricted Morinvillians.
Deputy Mayor Turner commented on how this update was not included in the CAO’s update during the meeting or to Council at all. Rather, it was only given after a question to Administration from Council.
CFO Andrew Isbister cited time and resource concerns with thorough project and spending updates in a constantly up-to-date basis.