Members of The Blue Mountains council are not happy with the new format for the quarterly budget update report.
At its committee of the whole meeting, council received the 2022 first-quarter budget report from staff. The town recently switched from a monthly report to an exception-based report that focuses on expenses and revenues that are forecasted at over or under 10 per cent of the budget.
The new report format did not receive positive reviews from members of council.
“I am concerned this is what I thought would happen when I voted against changing to this type of report,” said Mayor Alar Soever. “The purpose of these financial reports is to be on top of changes as they happen.”
Soever noted that the report did not include increases to the Thornbury Wastewater Treatment Plant project, which had been reported to council at a recent meeting.
Town staff explained that the timing of the various reports coming to council can be an issue. Deputy Treasurer Sam Dinsmore said those kinds of items would be caught up in the next quarterly report.
Councillor Rob Sampson said it was critical for council to receive timely information in the budget updates.
“The intent was to get us an early exception report, it’s an early warning signal to council,” said Sampson. “If we discuss that project A is over budget by 10 per cent, that should be reflected in this report somehow.”
Councillor Paula Hope also preferred format changes to the report.
“This report isn’t really cutting it. It’s not giving us a snapshot of where the town’s finances are at this point,” said Hope. “We need to have the information available to us in a way that is easily understood, not just as councillors, but the public.”
Both Dinsmore and CAO Shawn Everitt said staff would be pleased to have a discussion with council regarding format changes. Dinsmore noted that staff were spending enormous amounts of time on the previous monthly reports.
“This is staff’s attempt to streamline,” said Dinsmore. “I’m very open to working with (Finance Committee Chair councillor Andrea Matrosovs) to get this how council would like it,” he said.