Township prepares multi-year budget

MAPLETON – Council passed a resolution on July 9 directing staff to prepare a multi-year budget for the years 2020 to 2022, marking a new approach to the township’s budget.

A report prepared by director of finance John Morrison explains, “a municipality may, as an option, prepare and adopt a budget covering a period of two to five years.”

Legislation requires townships to adopt annual budgets to pay off municipal debt due within the year.

Municipalities can prepare a budget in the prior year, with the exception of not being able to bind a council to a budget during an election year. However, legislation also outlines the use of a multi-year plan as an option.

The benefit of a multi-year budget “is to establish acceptable tax and user fee increases that create an environment that is sustainable, predictable and stable,” states the report.

While the multi-year budget would be made years in advance, Morrison reiterated council would still look over budgets annually.

“I would remind council that we are reviewing it each year and council will adopt a budget each year, but it’s hoping to work with the staff in the terms of developing a plan for the balance every term so that we can discuss the items as we move forward in time,” he said.

Mapleton has already taken steps towards incorporating multi-year budgeting, including the adoption of a 10-year capital budget.

In order to effectively incorporate the multi-year budget option, Morrison’s report recommended an annual budget and forecasts be prepared during an election year and a three-year budget for non-election years.

“Because we have a 10-year budget plan and we have a strategic plan, we know where we are going, so this still comes to council every year just to finalize approval, but we are approving of the three years,” said Mayor Gregg Davidson.

“Exactly, that’s the point,” said Morrison.

“It’s to try to stabilize the rates so that there is a plan of action as we are moving forward that if some change were to occur we would have things to discuss, what to change and what needs to change,” he added.

Councillors Michael Martin and Dennis Craven voiced their support.

“I love this idea. I think we’ve talked all along about trying to provide stability surrounding the budgets. Hopefully it takes some of the personalities and politics out of budgeting …” said Martin.

Craven added it will have probable benefits for Mapleton businesses.

“I like it very much because it gives our businesses a chance to know what they can be looking at for tax increases down the road and plan their business actions accordingly,” said Craven.

Part of the resolution passed by council was approving a 2020 budget timeline for public input, deliberation and final approval.

Communication surrounding public input and budget deliberation is planned for late October.

A public presentation, at which residents can provide feedback, is currently scheduled for Nov. 5.