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2017 Budget
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The 2017 Budget Process

Latest Budget Update

Mayor and Council passed the $468.7 million 2017 Operating Budget on March 10, 2017. The revised budget is $47 million — or 9.1 per cent — lower than the $515.7 million Operating Budget presented in November 2016.

On December 13, 2016, Council approved a capital budget of $391.8 million and a $137 million interim operating budget. The interim operating budget provided for the continuation of operations and staffing requirements for the first quarter of 2017. It also gave the Wood Buffalo Steering Group more time to recommend a Joint Plan for Bill 21 Transition to Council and to re-engage with regional stakeholder groups.

Budget documents and videos are also available online in the Council Agendas and Minutes section, including previous budget workshops for the 2017 Capital Budget and Interim Operating Budget held on Nov. 28 to 30, Dec. 2, and Dec.13, 2016.

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Budget document cover

[Download the Proposed Budget]

The 2017 Budget, along with a 2018-2022 Financial Plan, will provide a foundation for the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo to meet the public service and infrastructure needs of residents. In addition, budget documents provide information for residents interested in learning about the operation of the municipality and understanding how tax dollars are spent.

The Budget Process

Every time your street is plowed, your garbage or recycling is collected, you visit a trail or park, or catch the bus, you can see your tax dollars at work. It is municipal budget decisions that set the funding for the programs and services that maintain our quality of life. Developing this budget involves making difficult decisions between essential programs, infrastructure demands, and the wants and needs of residents. It is the responsibility of the Mayor and Council to lead Administration through this process and to make those difficult decisions on behalf of taxpayers.

The Municipality’s budget cycle follows the calendar year, Jan. 1 through Dec. 31. Council approves one-year operating and capital budgets. Beginning in the fall, Council will review the proposed budget that has been developed by Administration for the following year. Once this budget has been thoroughly reviewed and deliberated, the proposed budget will be brought to Council for final approval.

A New Budget Process for 2017

Mayor and Council passed the $468.7 million 2017 Operating Budget on March 10, 2017. The revised budget is $47 million — or 9.1 per cent — lower than the $515.7 million Operating Budget presented in November 2016.

On Dec. 13, 2016, Council passed the 2017 Capital Budget and Interim Operating Budget. Council approved a Capital Budget of $391.8 million and a $137 million Interim Operating Budget. The interim operating budget provided for the continuation of operations and staffing requirements for the first quarter of 2017. It also gave the Wood Buffalo Steering Group more time to recommend a Joint Plan for Bill 21 Transition to Council and to re-engage with regional stakeholder groups.

Based on many changes in the region — Bill 21, benchmarking with other communities, economic slowdown, updated population projections, wildfire recovery, and realignment at the Municipality and in industry — a new approach for budgeting is required to adjust for these conditions. An interim operating budget was approved to allow for the development of a 2017 Operating Budget using the principles of zero-based budgeting that will continue to provide core infrastructure and services while addressing the changes that have impacted the entire region.

This is a new era for the Municipality. We will continue to assess the impact of measures taken to date, together with the region’s needs, and determine the next steps to any improved efficiencies.

Zero-based Budgeting

Though this is not a new financial approach, zero-based budgeting is new for the RMWB as part of the 2017 Operating Budget process. We’ve taken this approach because zero-based budgeting helps identify where reductions can be made, processes can be streamlined, and spending can be more efficient.

The zero-based budgeting approach helps for assessing the impacts of changing scopes, which then helps to identify candidates for adjustments or elimination. This approach also helps to assess the efficiency and effectiveness of services while allowing opportunities to streamline and make improvements. A practical approach to zero-based budgeting was taken under aggressive deadlines in order to ensure a 2017 Operating Budget would be completed for Council consideration prior to the end of the first quarter of 2017.

Budget Meeting Access

The municipal budget process is responsible, transparent and accountable to taxpayers. Residents were invited to watch the Budget Workshops as the Mayor and Councillors discussed the proposed budget for 2017.

Delegations

Residents’ involvement is an essential part of the democratic process. As a means of making the budget process more accountable to taxpayers, residents were provided opportunities to make presentations to Council throughout the budget-deliberation process.

Municipal Budgeting Facts

The Operating Budget covers the cost of maintaining services like snow removal, road maintenance and municipal fire services.

The Capital Budget covers the costs of constructing and renewing buildings, roads and parks.

A balanced budget is a budget in which revenues are equal to expenses.

A surplus occurs if actual revenues exceed actual expenses. Every year, a balanced budget is presented to Council for approval based on estimated revenues and estimated expenses.

Municipalities often borrow money to, at least in part, finance major capital projects such as sewer systems, roads or buildings. When the municipality borrows money, they issue a debenture to obtain the necessary funds, which is much like a mortgage or loan.

Funds to finance municipal operations come from property taxes and user fees (fees for permits, services, etc.). The Municipality also receives grant funding from other levels of government (Government of Alberta or Federal Government). These grants may be unconditional or targeted to specific projects.

Zero-based budgeting is a method of budgeting in which all expenses must be justified for each new period. This method starts from a "zero base" and is built from the ground up by reviewing every function within the organization analyzing its needs and costs. The Municipality used a practical approach applying the principles of this budgeting method in early 2017 within aggressive deadlines.

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