Rather than cram a detailed budget analysis in a couple of posts I will be focused on bite sized looks at the 2016 Town of Parry Sound (TOPS) Budget. The posts will take a look at key elements of the 2016 Budget, with some analysis and thoughts. One immediate observation is that he 2016 Budget really isn’t as large as it might seem if one looks at the effective ‘cash’ flowing through the Town’s books.
Municipal budgets are prepared in a manner different than one usually sees in the business world. This has to do with provincial regulations and is intended to ensure consistency from municipality to municipality, but at times seems quite arcane and makes it more difficult to understand. I’m certainly not an accountant, much less a municipal accountant, so I’ll try my best to tease out the essential elements of the budget without making too many wrong turns. A reminder, if you have an issue or recommendation with regard to the budget you need to get your comments in as soon as possible. The Town of Parry Sound 2016 Budget is scheduled for wrap up in early February.
Q1: What is the value of the 2016 Parry Sound Budget?
This is yet to be finalized, but the numbers presented in the early December anticipate Total Expenses of $29.7 million. This number is a little misleading as it includes the cost of the District Land Ambulance that the Town of Parry Sound administers. If we back that expense out, the TOPS 2016 Budget is $21.2 million. If we also back out the water and waste water expenses which are not covered by the Town levy and are expected to be self funding, the 2016 Budget falls to about $16.5 million. Not all of that is covered by resident and business taxes. A portion is offset by provincial funding and grants, payments in lieu of taxes (federal and provincial), fines, investment income, licenses and permits, rents and concessions. The net portion of the 2016 TOPS budget funded by a levy on properties (Taxation Revenues) is expected to be $9,779,818. (Note, this figure has risen since the draft budget was issued in early December as a result of revised MPAC assessment estimates.)
Q2: Where is the money spent?
This is a question that I will examine in more detail in follow on posts, but a summary is appropriate. Provided below is a copy of page 29 of the Parry Sound Director of Finance’s presentation to Council on December 8th that outlines the 2015 tax supported expenditures, and which is similar to 2016’s. (Click chart to see a larger version.)
It should be noted that this chart covers only the tax supported expenditures, and omits Land Ambulance and Water / Waste Water. It’s also important to understand that some of these expenditures are offset with income, notably the Bobby Orr Community Centre and Stockey Centre which receive rental and service related income, as well as limited grants. In the same sense Operations (Public Works) nets out at a smaller figure once offsetting grants are included.
In the next posts we’ll take a closer look at where the money goes. There are a number of surprises, at least from my perspective.