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Dog Days of Summer

Posted in Community

Published on July 04, 2014 with No Comments

Op-Ed by Linda Jeffrey

Late on Wednesday June 18th at a regularly scheduled Council meeting at City Hall our elected representatives considered a report from the Director of Financial Planning and Budgets.  Staff recommended that Brampton spend some money to create a Financial Master Plan – according to the report this document will serve as a roadmap for Council so that they can make informed decisions regarding our finances in the future.  Which begs the question – why now and what has Council been relying upon up till now in order to make these crucial decisions?


This project will begin immediately with a formal recommendation coming to a new Council in mid-2015.  Council spent ten minutes discussing the item and approved a budget amendment which formalizes that $400,000be withdrawn from reserves to hire external consultants.  These consultants will create a financial tool that will assist staff in explaining to Council the financial impact of various decisions and actions they make on the resources of the Corporation.


Only last month the same staff tabled a report on the Current Budget and Reserve Fund Status – these reports contained some troubling facts.  I learned that our cash balances are declining and our reserves are underfunded which means that in the next few years we will have some tough choices.


As voters we expect our leaders to manage our finances effectively – and based on the monthly revelations it is clear we must take immediate action to improve our financial situation. I am both disappointed and angry that a significant reserve of $262 million created by the sale of Brampton Hydro which could have sustained us during this long recession has been systematically gutted over the last decade.  Now we are faced with two unpalatable choices, either slow down much needed public infrastructure or borrow externally.


There have been numerous red flags about Brampton finances for some time now – in January the C.D. Howe Institute, a well-respected independent research organization, criticised the way Brampton prepares it’s budgets.  They stated that Brampton is one of the worst at hitting its budget targets in a comparison with 24 similarly sized cities across Canada.  Now in the waning days of this term Council has decided to withdraw from our reserves once again to hire some external consultants to tell us how to better manage our finances.  It is too little too late.


Although things look bad I choose to look on the bright side – there are only three more Council meetingsuntil October 27th when you will have the chance to choose change for a better Brampton.





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