The business planning process in place today is the result of many years of in-house development, feedback, enhancement and improvement, involving elected officials, management, union officials and front-line staff. The program’s longevity is a testament to its continued ability to provide value to citizens, customers, Council and staff and is considered a best practice within local government organizations.
The Community Charter requires that Council adopt a five-year Financial Plan each year prior to adopting the annual property tax bylaw. The purpose of the Financial Plan is to provide a budgetary framework for the City to plan and manage its resources, revenues and expenditures in order to best serve the community. The first year of the Plan forms the annual budget, while the following years provide a guideline, incorporating the City’s various long-term plans and strategies.
Throughout the year, Council and municipal staff welcome input on the budget and business planning process from our citizens, businesses, community groups and other stakeholders. Every spring, Council approves the Business Planning Guidelines that set the stage for the following year’s five-year Financial Plan, which ultimately determines property tax rates and other levies. The guidelines are presented at several Council meetings which are open to the public. Public comments on the guidelines are invited.
Throughout summer and early fall, service areas develop multi-year operating plans that directly support Council’s strategic direction. The plans include business evaluations with a 10% funding reduction scenario, requiring departments to look at new ways to deliver services. Employees prepare individual performance plans linking their work plans to the department’s objectives. The cascading effect through all levels of the organization provides the strategic alignment critical to achieving the community vision in the most effective and efficient manner.
Deliberating Financial Plans
In December, Council deliberates on the following year’s five-year financial plan. These sessions are open to the public and there are several opportunities for citizens to speak to Council. Since 2012, we have also held a live-streamed question and answer session and citizens were invited to ask questions by phone, email, social media and in person at City Hall. If you missed any of our live streams you can view all of the meetings online.
In addition to our annual financial planning, the City also completes an annual review of our past year, including Audited Financial Statements. There are a number of reports that might be of interest to you. They include the Annual Report, which is a very detailed analysis of the previous year’s work, the Citizens Report, which is a more ‘reader friendly’ review of the previous year which includes program highlights and the full financial statements and the Statement of Financial Information Report, which outlines key expenditures of the City.
Our business planning process provides a framework that links Council’s vision for the community to budgets and work plans and ensures a consistent strategic direction. It also provides a solid foundation for making decisions regarding programs and services, as well as for allocating resources in a manner consistent with that direction. It helps to ensure that the programs and services offered by the City of Maple Ridge provide value for dollar and are responsive to our citizens and customers, an increasingly challenging task in a growing community in an era of increased downloading from senior governments.