Committee of the Whole tackles 2024 preliminary budget

Smiths Falls town hall.
Posted on: December 19, 2023

During Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting in Smiths Falls, council and town staff discussed the 2024 preliminary budget. CAO Malcolm Morris presented the budget for discussion, and department heads discussed their anticipated expenditures based on past needs and current prices.

Several items raised questions from council, including a $40,000 price tag for live streaming, and how the police services budget stacks up to other communities’ police budgets.

“89% of our budget consists of staff costing,” said Deputy Police Chief Jodi Empey, “5.7% of our budget is for police building expenses.” Mayor Shawn Pankow, who sits on the Police Services Board, noted that means there’s not a lot of wiggle room to change the police services draft budget. 

“We compared budgets across the province, and we are one of the lowest for operating costs, replied Empey, “We did do our homework, and we are one of the lowest for this year.”

After a mammoth three-and-a-half hour discussion, CAO Morris took a moment to put the budget discussion into context.

“There are 94 capital projects in this budget. That’s an enormous amount. We put it all in there because we want to be authentic and transparent about what we think needs to be done,” said CAO Morris, “However, we have to overlay that with our capacity to do 94 things and run the town on a day to day basis. We’re going to have a look at this, and if there are things we think we should defer, we’ll make that clear in the next draft.”

Janelle Labelle
Author: Janelle Labelle