This week’s meeting of Council was a long one! We had a few agenda items that elicited lengthy discussions and some strong feelings … But I would like to highlight just 2 items – the Design Review Panel (DRP) and the Budget.
With respect to the Design Review Panel, Council approved the appointment of the members of this committee. Moving forward into the New Year, this committee will help make a difference on how applications (zoning amendments, new builds, renovations etc.) in the Town’s heritage resource area are processed. This will help with the preservation of our historically valued properties. Congratulations to the new members of the committee:
Michelle N. Tremblay
I am looking forward to the work that this committee will do on behalf of the Town.
The next item that I’d like to highlight is the budget. As I mentioned during the Council meeting I believe staff did an excellent job. They put a budget before Council that met the threshold that we set at the beginning of the budget process. Now, while I was not in favour of all the items that were approved, Council as a majority approved them and we stayed within that threshold of 3.1% ( this number is Inflation +1% for fiscal sustainability).
I want to reiterate that I believe Council and staff have worked hard over the last 2 years in developing a new process that continues to be refined and I can say that this hard work has paid off. The revamped budget process has shown that it works very well. This is the second year that we have been able to approve the budget in December. By approving the budget in December, this allows staff not only to have their budget set at the beginning of the year which allows for more efficient operational planning, but also allows for capital projects to be put out for tender right away. Early tenders help to get better pricing as we get out early compared to other municipalities.
I believe that we have made great strides towards an effective and efficient budget process, but as we move forward to next year, I think we need to continue to look for ways to be even more fiscally aware especially as it speaks to the provision of services. I firmly believe that it is Council’s job to ensure our residents get the best service for the best price. The focus of budget considerations should always be, in my mind at least, what the value is to our residents and business owners. Residents and business owners are our priority.
As we get closer to build-out as a Town, we will begin to receive less revenue due to growth so it is of the upmost importance that we prepare for this eventuality. We need to become creative with our delivery of the services Aurorans have come to expect. We can’t simply ask our residents and business owners to continue to put more and more money in the pot.
With that in mind, when deliberating about an added or improved service, we need to consider carefully if the addition of new staff is the answer. I believe that we need to optimize what we have ; look for ways to provide more with the same wherever possible. As I said at the Council table, if we don’t do this kind of careful financial planning we risk setting tax rates that will price Aurora out of the market, with people no longer able to afford to live in this great Town.
The Budget and tax rate of 3.1%, was approved unanimously.
If you would like to see the full operating and capital budgets, here is the link to the documents:
2017 Final Capital Budget
2017 Finial Operating Budget