Taxpayers’ association critical of budget process

The Red Deer Taxpayers’ Association wants city council to take a fine tooth comb to its budget process in order to find a better way of handling city finances.

The Red Deer Taxpayers’ Association wants city council to take a fine tooth comb to its budget process in order to find a better way of handling city finances.

President Jason Stephan said there has to be a better way to balance the budget and reduce spending. Stephan made the remarks in response to the $305-million operating budget, approved by council last week.

“Each year the budget goes up more than population and inflation growth combined,” said Stephan. “The processes that are currently undertaken are leading to that result.”

The $305-million budget came with a 3.93 per cent tax increase (before the education tax is factored in this spring).

Stephan said council should look at ways to lead to spending that is in line with population growth and inflation.

“There is room for significant improvement,” he said. “I tried to use the snow removal as an example.”

Stephan said the automatic reaction or solution is to put the expense onto the bottom line rather than looking within the organization for savings. He said there are likely more savings to be found on a $305-million budget.

Mayor Tara Veer, however, said this was the first year in her 10 years of budgets that council has found as many savings in the base budget.

“Our public is looking for respect and is ultimately hoping council would respect taxpayers dollars and when we make investment, it’s sound investment in our future,” said Veer.

“I think we did attempt to do that in this budget in terms of the base budget savings that we found and debating service level cost savings.”

Last year the city’s audit committee chaired by Veer recommended that council conduct an operational audit on the utilities.

The independent audit showed the city was getting good value for the investment.

The cost-savings in this budget was about $900,000, which included savings in consultant fees, delays in hiring, and reductions in conference and seminar fees. There were also savings on the utility side.

In a letter to the Advocate, Stephan encourages council to hire an independent management professional to review the city’s operations on a “value for money” or “zero-based” budget basis and report saving opportunities to council to be applied to next year’s operating budget.

“In the future there will likely be other parts of the organization as the audit committee and council move forward that we may engage in another value for money audit,” said Veer.

Council passed a resolution during the operating budget deliberations to review its process, creating budget guidelines that may include gathering more public feedback. Stephan says he applauds city council for the effort but cautions on the implementation.

“Businesses come up with great ideas all the time but businesses succeed or fail based on poor implementation of maybe great ideas,” said Stephan. “It is a really good idea. I am sure there is some improvement. This is a status quo budget. I am hoping in future years that we do confront some of the trends we have seen over the past 10 years in terms of spending growth.”

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

PHOTOS: Aaron Goodvin sings at Westerner Days

Aaron Goodvin performed at Westerner Days Wednesday.… Continue reading

Severe thunderstorm watch in effect for Central Alberta

There’s a severe thunderstorm watch in effect for Red Deer and the… Continue reading

WATCH: Sun shines on Red Deer’s Westerner Days parade

George Young has been a Westerner Days parade marshal for about 28… Continue reading

Central Alberta receives funding for regional emergency training

Alberta Municipal Affairs announces $160,000 for training on top of $40,000 previously received

WATCH: Global FMX at Westerner Days

There are three freestyle motocross shows a day at Westerner Park this week

Study links air pollution to drop in national park visitors

DENVER — Visitors appear to be steering clear of some U.S. national… Continue reading

Banff’s bathroom bears returned to the park after 15 months of rehab in Ontari

Three cubs found abandoned in a washroom along the Trans-Canada Highway in… Continue reading

Canada could get caught in cross-fire of U.S. uranium investigation

Canada could get caught in the crossfire after the U.S. Department of… Continue reading

Trudeau shuffles familiar faces, adds new ones to expanded cabinet

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has unveiled his pre-election cabinet, shuffling… Continue reading

Canada’s premiers meet Indigenous groups, although three major groups decline

BOUCTOUCHE, N.B. — Canada’s premiers are meeting with Indigenous organizations in New… Continue reading

An updated list of federal cabinet ministers following Wednesday’s shuffle

OTTAWA — An updated list of federal cabinet ministers following Wednesday’s shuffle,… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month