The Budget Process
Each year council, the town manager and staff work together to develop the Town's budget. The annual budget is the result of significant public consultation and strategic planning by the Town and can be considered the financial road map of how the Town will achieve the community's vision of "cultivating Banff's uniqueness while embracing opportunities to enhance our economic health, our diversity of lifestyles, and our ecosystem."
The Town's service delivery is limited by the amount of resources available, and the budget process helps determine which objectives will produce the greatest positive impact in the community and therefore have the highest priority.
Step 1 - Financial Plan Review - July
(November in an election year)
Step 2 - Strategic Planning Session - September
(November in an election year)
At the start of the budget cycle, council meets with the management team for a strategic planning session. During this planning session, council discusses current issues and establishes the priorities and strategies of the Town of Banff for the next year. This strategic planning session is particularly critical at the start of the council’s elected term of office.
Step 3 - Departments Prepare Their Work Plans and Budgets - August/September (November in an election year)
Using the priorities of council, the service level review, and the budget guidelines, the corporate services department provides all departments with the budget templates and guidelines to start their budgets. Departments then outline their work plan for the coming year and develop the related budget requirements, which are then submitted to the senior accountant for coordination and compilation of the departmental budgets into the corporate-wide budget. Community group funding requests are prepared along with a budget impact analysis.
Step 4 - Management Team Budget Review - September (November in an election year)
Invariably, estimated expenses exceed the available resources. The management team meets to review the requests and evaluate the corporate wide budget impacts of each department. Priorities are evaluated and a draft operating and capital budget is prepared for presentation to council for review.
Step 5 - Service Level Review - November/December (December/January in an election year)
Each year, as a part of the budget process, council will review the programs and services that the municipality provides. This process will confirm the level of service for each program and the associated budget estimates. The senior accountant and management team members will present the service levels to council in a series of public meetings and review the budgets and service level expectations.
Step 6 - Council Budget Review/Public Consultation - December (January in an election year)
Council will meet and review the first draft of the operating and capital budgets with the management team and the senior accountant. The capital budget impacts on the operating budget will be presented and discussed. All budget meetings are open to the public and are advertised in advance. At least one of the scheduled budget meetings is dedicated to external group requests and presentations as well as general comments from the public.
Step 7 - Council Adoption of the Budget - December/January
The final drafts of the budgets are presented to council with any changes made during the public consultation process. Council reviews the capital and operating budgets and the impact on taxpayers, with the objective of adopting both budgets by the second meeting in December.
January - April
All properties in Banff are sent a notice of the assessed value of their property. This will determine each property's share of the total tax levy needed for the budget. Property owners have an opportunity to appeal their property's assessed value by the end of the assessment review period.
The Government of Alberta sends an invoice to all municipalities indicating the amount the municipalities must collect from property taxes to help fund education in Alberta.
Passing of the Tax Rate Bylaw - April
The annual tax rate bylaw is presented to council in early April after the provincial government has presented their annual budget and has set the amount of education taxes to be levied from municipalities. Based on the amount of education taxes, council will adjust the annual operating budget to reflect any changes required to maintain the overall tax strategy outlined in the adoption of the budgets. Council also determines the total amount of municipal revenue that will be collected from commercial property taxes and from residential properties. This is affected by the provincial government's rules on the ratio allowed or the "tax split."
Amendments to the Budget
Sometimes changes to the operating and capital budget are required as a result of new projects or changes in project estimates. Council approval is required for budget amendments which are made when there is a significant impact to the budget from a known event, such as bringing a new service online or changing the scope of a capital project. Cost overruns or savings from day-to-day operations are reported to council quarterly in forecast reports.