Excessive Growth in City Budgets – Part II
My previous articles on taxation during the period 2011 to 2020, were based on
the city’s Audited Financial Statements available on the city’s website. The
Audited Financial Statements give us a high level of confidence. However, as
currently constructed they do not provide sufficient visibility for us to see
how individual department budgets are growing. For example, the audited
financials show us statements for “Recreation and Cultural Services”
which includes the Library, the Art Gallery, the Bayshore and the Rec Centre.
However, the city’s audited financial statements are currently structured to
show only groups of departments, so the Rec Centre for example is lumped in with
the Library, the Art Centre and the Bayshore under the heading of “Recreation
and Cultural Services”. Therefore we have no idea how any of these
individual departments performed during the study period. Perhaps the city will
change this to give taxpayers more visibility in the future.
The graph above shows the operational budget for Art Centre for a five year
period from 2018 to 2022. We can see in this graph that the Art Gallery’s burden
to taxpayers, during this five year period, actually grew by $220,482 or 77.3 %.
After reviewing the excessive growth that occurred in the Art Gallery I thought I should take a quick look at the growth of other departments as reported in the 2022 Budget. In the 2022 budget, there were 5 areas that had extreme budget growth in excess of 9%. The City Manager’s Office experienced the greatest growth on a percentage basis of 71.9%. This was followed closely by Transit which grew by 52.8%. Human Resources grew by 52.5%. Community Development grew by 23.7% and the Clerk’s office grew by 9.3%. As for the 71.9% increase in the City Manager’s Office – it seems excessive and given the times we are in Council should not have been approved this increase
In spite of the 2022 department budget statements at the above link being labeled "Final-Reduced", these numbers differ from those in the 2022 Tally Sheets shown in this document. The Tally Sheets show: Transit growth at $515,518 or 54.0%; City Manager budget growth at $158,081 or 42.4%; HR at 119,772 or 35.1%; City Clerk budget growth at $70,756 or 10.6%; and Community Development at $16,386 or 8.8%. I’m guessing that these are actually the reduced numbers and that staff forgot to change the individual department budgets to reflect the reduction. Regardless of which numbers are correct, the department statements or the Tally Sheets, these are absolutely huge increases for a single budget year and should not have been approved by Council.