GUELPH POLITICAST #246 – Explaining the Multi-Year Budget

Putting together the City of Guelph budget was a process that more or less started right after the last budget was passed, and involved every City department basically rebuilding their budget from scratch every year. It wasn’t easy, it was short-sighted, and it created a lot of extra work for staff. There had to be a better way, and that better way might be the move to multi-year budgeting.

Now this is always a busy time of year for the City’s finance staff, but this year may be even busier because they’re introducing multi-year budgeting. It’s a plan that aligns budget priorities with the Strategic Plan and forecasts the budget out three extra years. In the past, Guelph’s annual budget has been built piece-by-piece, and only one year at a time, and while that has served us well in the past, the move to multi-year budgeting is meant to give us a broader budget picture.

For example, consider the decision to build a new library, or community centre. The immediate costs to next year’s budget may fall under the capital budget, but there are also new operating expenses and staffing in the years that follow. Multi-year budgeting makes it easier to see those effects by not just expanding the timeline, but also by eliminating the silos of capital and operating and considering them both at the same time. It sounds complicated, but how complicated is it really?

Tara Baker, the general manager of finance and the treasurer for the City of Guelph, will help guides us through that and other questions. Baker will talk about how the new budget is organized, how staff aligned the different departments into the various Strategic Plan categories, and how local boards and committees that still budget on an annual basis fit in. She will also talk about the ongoing effects of COVID-19 on the budget, and how members of the public will be able to follow along with the new budget process.

So let’s talk about this very different Guelph Budget season on this week’s Guelph Politicast!

You can see all the budget materials now on the City’s website. The budget will be presented at a special meeting of council on Tuesday November 17 at 9 am, and the public delegation night will be Wednesday November 25 at 6 pm. The final budget vote will take place on Tuesday December 1.

The host for the Guelph Politicast is Podbean. Find more episodes of the Politicast here, or download them on your favourite podcast app at Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Play, and Spotify.

Also, when you subscribe to the Guelph Politicast channel and you will also get an episode of Open Sources Guelph every Monday, and an episode of End Credits every Friday.

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