Executive Briefings for Council

The following are suggested topics for council speaking engagements.

Fix The Gap In The Decision Making Process

The issue:

A great deal has been said and written about other forms of sustainability and now there is more emphasis on financial sustainability. There has been a steady, widespread recognition that municipalities  need to understand the link between land use planning and fiscal outcomes.

Elected Officials, need to understand the flaw in the decision making process. It is decisions they make about changes in land uses that drive the municipality’s future cost of service delivery and revenues. Typically, at Council meetings elected officials do not have information about the fiscal outcomes to make an informed decision.  Now there is an answer to this problem.

Preliminary Outline of Presentation:

Below is a brief sample outline of content for a presentation. The content can be modified to address local issues and your event theme.

1)   Why we need to do Fiscal Impact Analysis

2)   The process of Fiscal Impact Analysis

  • Lifecycle Costing of TCA
  • Calculate all revenues
  • Calculate Reserve Funds
  • Performance Reports

3)   Avoiding risk and the slippery slope

4)   The disconnect in the decision-making process

5)   Improving the decision-making process and get better fiscal results

6)   To explain fiscal sustainability, we will use case studies from a variety of municipalities

  • What is the right revenue mix and avoid pressure on residential taxes?
  • How to improve land use plans and increase net revenues
  • The realities of estate lot subdivisions, a net loss or net gain
  • Fiscal implications of residential and commercial intensification
  • Getting the most net revenue from industrial / commercial lands
  • Will different forms of residential and commercial developments generate sufficient revenue to support the cost of rural infrastructure and community services?

7)   How to get on the Road to Financial Sustainability

The Buck Stops With Council

The issue:

When I speak with elected officials about issues that are important to their constituency, familiar topics arise such as: property taxes are too high; roads need to be repaired; sports groups need more facilities and more ice time.

Inevitably, the conversation turns to fiscal issues such as; the tens of millions or hundreds of millions of dollars that are needed to fund the backlog of infrastructure and municipal debt. I have asked Councillors, “so, what are you going to do about that?” I often get a blank stare or a long pause while they think of a response. It’s an indication that some elected officials don’t connect the dots and understand that all fiscal issues and municipal services are THEIR responsibility. Their responsibilities do not end when they have fulfilled their campaign promises.

The fiscal health of the municipality is not the responsibility of the administration; “the buck stops with Council.”

Preliminary Outline of Presentation:

Below is a brief outline of content for a presentation. The content can be modified to address local issues and your event theme.

  1. Review of provincial legislation defining council's roles and responsibilities concerning municipal finances
  2. The rule of democratic representation
  3. The principle of accountability
  4. The relationships between Council, the CAO and Administration
  5. Understanding council’s responsibility for municipal finances
  6. Key questions that councillors need to ask the administration
  7. Are you on the ‘slippery slope’?
  8. Council’s fiscal legacy - short electoral terms and longer-term needs of the municipality
  9. Do low property taxes buy votes?
  10. When is the financial integrity of the municipality at risk?
  11. Political and Administrative Leadership – the cornerstone of a financially viable community

The Hidden Impact of Land Use Decisions on Municipal Budgets

The issue:

This session is essential for municipal staff and elected officials with an interest in learning the fiscal implications of land use planning. Participants will learn how land use planning can dramatically influence municipal budgets both positively and negatively. There is no One Silver Bullet solution to becoming a Financially Viable municipality.

Learn about the many factors that affect the municipal finances in the planning context.

Preliminary Outline of Presentation:

Below is a brief outline of content for a presentation. The content can be modified to address local issues and your event theme.

  1. Principles of Financial Sustainability
  2. The enormous gap in the decision making process
  3. Land use decisions influence the fiscal outcomes
  4. The planning review process
  5. Where is the Treasurer?
  6. The public thinks you are doing it
  7. Provides the Administration and Council with credible and reliable information
  8. The fiscal realities of residential development
  9. Commercial / Industrial developments
  10. Efficiency factors and comparing land use scenarios
  11. Optimum land use mix

Do Increased in Property Taxes, User Fees and other Municipal Charges Affect Votes for Elected Officials?

The issue:

Canadian, provincial and local economies are challenged in the current economic climate and I have observed a trend to constrain municipal budgets. Sometimes this is due to legitimate fiscal issues and in other instances it is fueled by lack of information, the fear of optics and perceptions. Councils, staff and ratepayers are often conflicted over budget issues, priorities, the reality that our infrastructure is aging and there is a need for basic community services.

How elected officials view the relationship between municipal rates and votes has a profound impact on the municipality’s ability to cope with service delivery. In some municipalities, there is a perception that increases in property taxes, user fees and other municipal charges equate to the potential loss of support from voters.

Preliminary Outline of Presentation:

During this presentation we will explore the hypothesis that increase in municipal rates equates to loss of votes at election time and how this perception affects the ability of a municipality to deliver services, basic infrastructure and community services.

Topics that will be covered include the following:

From a sample of Canadian Municipalities we will review the annual property tax increases in relation to voter preferences for the last two terms of Council.

Profile of Municipalities

  • Characteristics
  • Population 130,000 in 2000

Review Fiscal Policies and Council fiscal themes such as:

  • Pay-as-you-go
  • Fiscal conservative
  • Hold the line

Trend in Property Tax Increases over last two electoral terms

Review Voter Reaction

  • Mayors re-election trends
  • Impact of Fiscal Policies on levels of service

Impact of Fiscal Policies on the Administration

  • The staff perspective

For Additional Suggested Topics:

Put an end to scenarios where you say:
“if only I’d known that, I’d have done things differently.”