Budget – The Opening Scene

Budget season has begun.  The City of Barrie has about a $170M annual operating budget and lest anyone think Council doesn’t get a lot of detail – the budget binder is 4 inches thick.  My new cross-training regime is carrying it home and back every night.

It details every service that the City delivers and what it costs to deliver them.  Police services is the largest chunk, about 25% of the total budget.  The County of Simcoe’s services (Ontario Works, land ambulance, social housing, and Homes for the Aged) together are about another 13% of the budget.  The Fire Department is 11%.  Virtually everything else the city does – roads, parks, rec centres, streetlights, libraries, sidewalks, transit, building permits, planning, economic development, clerks’ office – everything – gets done for the remaining 50% of the budget.

This year, for the first year, there are benchmarks built right into the budget, to show whether Barrie’s service levels are above or below average.  On page 65 of the budget is data that compares our performance by service to 18 other Ontario cities.  By measuring where we are above or below average, the City can target areas that most urgently need improvement, or where we are doing particularly well.

Service partner presentations are the 21st (Police, County).  Then Council debates the budget on March 28th – and we will certainly not be short on information.  It’s now up to Council as to how well we use it to make good decisions.

About jefflehman
Jeff Lehman is the 46th Mayor of the City of Barrie. The Ward 2 Councillor for the City of Barrie from 2006 to 2010, he was the Chairman of the Finance Committee of Council, chaired the City’s Growth Management Working Group, and created the Historic Neighbourhoods project, a new initiative to protect and revitalize Barrie’s oldest neighbourhoods. Jeff has lived in Barrie for most of his life, having grown up in Allandale and attended Barrie Central Collegiate. Jeff holds a B.A. from Queen’s University, and a Master’s Degree with first class honours from the UK’s prestigious London School of Economics. He was hired to teach at the LSE following his graduation, and lived and worked in London for two years as an academic. Since that time, as an economist, he has worked with cities across Canada to manage redevelopment and invest in their urban infrastructure. In 2005, he established the Growing By Degrees Task Force to assist in expanding university education opportunities in Barrie, and has volunteered his time with many organizations in the City. Jeff lives near Downtown Barrie with his wife, Jennifer, a part-time professor of political science, and their young daughter Cassie, who is already smarter than her father.

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