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City of Kelowna changing annual budget process

The city is introducing a budget created around services rather than departments and divisions
Kelowna city staff and council will begin budget deliberations Dec. 7, 2023. (Gary Barnes/Capital News)

The City of Kelowna is changing the way it puts together its annual budget.

Staff presented the issue in a workshop to council at its morning meeting on Nov. 20.

“This was a significant change to what the organization had been used to,” Joe Sass, city CFO. “I’m thrilled by the combined efforts and willingness to explore new processes and new ideas.”

Traditionally staff and council have used an organizational approach to the annual budget.

The city is now introducing a service-based budget created around services rather than departments and divisions.

“Members of the public are increasingly holding municipalities accountable for the cost of services provided,” Sass added.

Services, and associated service levels, are determined through council’s priorities, and the city’s strategic plan.

Coun. Ron Cannan asked if there would be opportunities for more public input on the budget.

“We’re always thinking and open-minded of new ways to connect with the community and perhaps use technology to do that,” Sass replied. “It’s always on our mind and will continue to evolve as we move forward.”

Cannan also asked about incentivizing city departments to work within budgets rather than continuing to automatically assume and add inflation.

“I’m confident in saying that we have a culture, frankly, led by the city manager that we’re always looking for efficiencies and how we look inwardly and look at technology before we just add new things to budget,” Sass said.

He added that the benefits of a service budget include enhanced accountability and transparency, better communication of where tax dollars are being spent, and greater clarity of services offered to the community.

Council will begin budget deliberations Dec. 7.

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Gary Barnes

About the Author: Gary Barnes

Journalist and broadcaster for three decades.
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