The city has released its 2012 budget process plan.
And it is significantly different from recent years.
The memo from treasurer Steve Christiansen says the process will get underway Friday, February 3 with all city departments submitting their 5-year operating and supplemental (capital spending) budgets to the treasurer.
On the following Monday, February 6, community groups make their requests for community grants at a regular council meeting and “the target taxation increase and related service levels” are set.
On Friday, February 10, city managers hunker down “in an attempt to bring the budget to maximum 2.5 per cent tax increase per year” – unless council decides on a different target on February 6.
There will be another management meeting on Tuesday, February 14 to finalise the presentation to be made to council at a Committee of the Whole meeting on Wednesday, February 22.
And on Monday, February 27 council will give its final approval at a Committee of the Whole meeting.
The big change is that the two-day and occasionally three-day session during which council listened to presentations from all departments, then started a line-by-line grind has been eliminated.
And that will be because administration will have whittled down the usual ambitious wish list to what it considers to be a reasonable taxation increase before council gets involved.
Last year was an extreme example of the opposite where council was presented with a budget that required a more than 17 per cent increase and left them to hack it down.
That said, whatever administration comes up with in its recommendations this year does not prevent council from adding or deleting items.