Zero-based budget needed

As a taxpayer, I am concerned about comments made by the Penticton council that the 2011 budget might include a tax cut. This was reported in the Penticton Western News on Feb. 23.

That complete article, referring to “across- the-board” cuts and “hold-the-line spending” leads me to believe that the council is budgeting in the traditional sense, i.e.: incremental budgeting. This type of budgeting begins by using previous budgets and has serious flaws. The comment that the city’s CFO was unable to put a final figure on the budget reinforces my opinion that incremental budgeting is being used. As planning devices, incremental budgets lack focus and specificity and are of little use to top management — accurate/detailed financial information must be readily available, especially when the screws are being turned.

I attended a meeting at City Hall reference electricity costs and objected to contingency funds being used for known flow-through costs. These funds should only be used for unforeseen expenses and emergencies — else our children and grandchildren pay for our expenses.

To assuage the citizenry, the then-projected 12.45 per cent increase was supplemented by money from the contingency fund, and I find that this was a self-serving move by council to reduce citizens’ hostility, and I question their authority to use those funds. This council is now considering a tax break, while considering shutting down essential community services. Shame!

It is time this council applied some modern budgeting procedures and implemented a zero-based budget (ZBB), with category A, B, C and D expenditure prioritizations. I am sure you have council members and managers with management engineering experience to resolve this matter. ZBB will give a true picture and there is no doubt that this budget will eliminate waste and identify increased funding for numerous community activities.

Patrick MacDonald