Now’s the time to ask any and all questions
Does anything raise more tax payer questions than a municipal budget?
On April 23 the City of Portage la Prairie will present its Financial Plan (budget) at its regularly scheduled 6 p.m. council meeting up the 27 stairs to the council chambers.
The city’s zero tax increase (got to love an election year) $39 million dollar plus budget will be subject to questioning and city council will do their best to answer all of them, Deputy Mayor and Finance Chair Brent Budz said April 9 when asked during question period about aspects in the budget.
Coun. Budz – the budget’s quarterback – deferred any questions about the budget arising from question period to the April 23 meeting and intimated ‘all questions will be answered then’.
City council doesn’t expect the majority of Portagers to be able to read and understand a complicated financial document that is the financial (budget) plan council will present at this meeting.
I’ve read the document, sought analysis and explanations from educated sources and I have questions. Lots of them, but that’s what budgets do: raise questions.
The budget document is reported differently this year than last and differently last year than the year before, so it’s bound to raise questions, if not eyebrows.
One very interesting aspect in this budget is how capital expenditures are now being weighed on a risk management scale. The scale measures likelihood to occur (improbable to certain), impact (minimal to catastrophic) and puts them on a severity index to come up with a matrix score: management new age fad or genius, your question to ask.
Debt, just like in our own budgets, is something the majority of us easily understand…we either pay off all of bills at the end of the month or carry a balance we worry about how to pay in the next and hope it doesn’t get away on us.
Portage la Prairie, we know, is on the cusp of becoming involved in huge and expensive water project upgrades and ratepayers here want to know how this will affect their bottom line.
It’s confusing and easy to misunderstand, but it looks like the trending has gone from $132 million in long-term debt to $73 million in long-term debt to over $500 million to a potential debt load of $833 million in long-term debt. This works out to committing approximately $63,846 of debt for every man, woman and child here. That would be something to ask questions about!
And you can on April 23 during the next council meeting when the plan is tabled.