Council receives fiscal update: Need to address projected $13.9 million funding gap

 

(November 23, 2010) – HRM Regional Council today began what will be
challenging discussions on a funding gap of approximately $13.9 million
for the 2011-12 budget year, and a means of addressing future funding
gaps.
 
Following the 2010-11 budget deliberations, HRM staff was instructed to
return to Council this fall with a combined total of $13 million (recent
projections show the figure to be $13.9 million) through savings,
efficiencies and revenues.
 
More than 300 suggestions from Council members, staff, and members of
the public were received and reviewed. Some of the suggestions have been
implemented, some have gone forward as realistic opportunities for cost
savings in the budget year ahead, others require further consideration,
while still others were not workable for a variety of reasons. A full
list of the ideas and the outcomes of their consideration can be found
on the HRM website at:
http://www.halifax.ca/council/agendasc/documents/101123cow3.pdf.
 
It is evident that the anticipated 2011/12 revenue-to-expenditure gap
of approximately $13.9 million cannot be addressed solely through
finding efficiencies, and that a longer range approach to future budget
years is needed. Council heard from HRM Chief Financial Officer Cathie
O’Toole that the rate of investment in new capital assets, in
extending and expanding services, and in hiring employees to provide
those services must slow unless revenue is increased to meet
expenditures.
 
Mayor Peter Kelly said Council will have a healthy debate about the
funding gap.
 
“We will no doubt have some difficult decisions to make to ensure
this municipality produces a balanced budget that serves our citizens in
a way that is responsive to their needs and fiscally prudent,” he
said. “This is a challenge, but it can certainly be met.”
 
Staff is recommending filling the funding gap for 2011-12 fiscal year
through the following measures:
 
●       Continue to identify efficiencies and service reductions;
●       Continue to generate savings by managing position vacancies;
●       And, decrease the amount of capital funding that is transferred
from the operating budget.
 
Staff has also recommended that while growth must be kept in line with
the Consumer Price Index (CPI), HRM must continue to make targeted
investments to aid in economic growth needed to sustain programs and
services in years to come.
 
Debate on the approach to a balanced budget for 2011-12 will continue
with a Council workshop on Dec. 13 and 14.
 
 
To view the staff report go to:
http://www.halifax.ca/council/agendasc/documents/101123cow3pres.pdf.

Source: HRM Release
 

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