Guelph-Eramosa councillor Mark Bouwmeester has proposed the formation of a new budget and finance committee.
At the Feb. 16 council meeting Bouwmeester brought forward a resolution that directs council and staff “to develop terms of reference for a standing committee on budget and finance which operates year-round to address our infrastructure deficit and proactively explores opportunities to lower the long-term tax burden on ratepayers.”
He further explained, “I believe the financial challenges that we face require the council’s attention on (an) ongoing basis.
“Our infrastructure deficit isn’t going away and will only get worse with time unless we begin to develop a plan to address it in a serious manner now.”
Bouwmeester proposed the committee also provide guidance on ways to lower long-term operating costs so more money can go to capital reserves.
“It would be my vision that this would be a committee of council but I recognize that will also be up to all of council to decide,” he said.
“The financial challenges and responsibilities we face require our full attention and in my opinion council needs to devote more of our time to that cause.”
Mayor Chris White said the resolution will be discussed at a strategic planning committee meeting.
Councillor Corey Woods said he thought council was already performing the identified function.
“I just don’t see a difference if we have strategic planning and do budget stuff or if we take strategic planning and call it a budget meeting – we’re doing the same thing,” Woods said.
“I sat here a couple weeks ago and had somebody complain about all the money we get paid … and now we’re talking about putting another committee together and then at the next budget meeting, (someone will say) ‘oh council’s getting paid too much’ so you want me to go to more meetings …”
Bouwmeester clarified it wasn’t his intention to make the committee part of strategic planning.
“I’m saying take this to strategic planning, put it on the agenda for discussion about what this committee would look like,” he said.
White added it’s up to council to decide how the committee would work.
“We may decide to do none of it,” he said. “We may decide to set up three meetings in September … We need to sit down and have a discussion about ‘do you want this committee or not?’ And what’s it going to look like and all this is saying is send this in for that discussion.”
Council agreed to discuss the resolution at a strategic planning committee meeting.