Each budget process is different — and yet the same.
Each year is challenge. Each year, people want a “number” before all the data is collected and assumptions are refined. Each year is a balancing act between affordability and sustaining the organization’s capacity to deliver services and provide infrastructure to a growing city.
Different this year is a new corporate strategic plan and the desire to align our budget with it to deliver on our mission – to build an exceptional city by providing outstanding municipal service and value.
We know we need to make some key investments to deliver on the plan and our mission. In some cases, these investments are necessary to avoid slipping back. A good example is the findings of our Information Technology Strategy if we want to deliver future value to our taxpayers. We need to be flatter, more agile, streamlined and tech-enabled.
We are in competition with other cities for jobs. Strategic city building allows us to stay in the game and support the lowest unemployment rate in Ontario.
We have positive momentum on our Credit Rating – moving from AA stable to AA positive. We don’t want to jeopardize this achievement and should look at what it would take to move to AAA. All our governance and management practices are a key input, not just strong financial policies. Our credit rating is an expression of our future outlook. We want it strong.
Council will need to consider the pace of investment. How much? How fast? How much risk can we afford to take?
We have started the budget conversation even earlier this year. That too is new.
Unchanged? In my opinion, my colleague’s commitment to their important role of approving the budget.