Pour une étude du budget transparente pouvant susciter des déba

Pour une étude du budget transparente pouvant susciter des déba

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Public S tudy of the Various Stages of the Budgetary ProcessMemorandum submitted by Projet Montréal to the Standing C ommittee on Finance and Administration of the C ouncil of the AgglomerationMay 12, 2006, at Montreal C ity H allFo r a transparent study of the budget that can stimulate fundamental debate among MontrealersAs Gil Co urtemanche says in his book La seconde révolution tranquille, "Wh en we talk about more democracy, participation and consultation, certain elected officials and certain managers say that it takes too long, that the time wasted is money lost and especially (th ey don't say it, but they think it) that the citizens are incompetent" (free translation, Proj et Montré al).H owever, much experience shows that the key to success lies in democracy. The more people involved in decisions, the more the decisions are fair, accepted and adopted, the stronger becomes the sense of responsibility, the more the sense of duty and respect increases.Projet Montréal would like this evening to present a different way for elected municipal officials to study the budgets, those of the agglomeration, the city and its boroughs (referr ed to h ere as operating bud gets), as we ll as the triennial cap ital bud get.From this point of view, Projet Montréal proposes to the municipal administration that the study of the operating budgets as well as its triennial capitalization program be conducted by a multiparty Fi nance and Budget C ommittee with a ...

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Public Study of the Various Stages of the Budgetary Process
Memorandum submitted by Projet Montréal to the Standing Committee on Finance and Administration of the Council of the Agglomeration
May 12, 2006, at Montreal City Hall
For a transparentstudy of the budgetthat can stimulate fundamental debateamong Montrealers
As Gil Courtemanche says in his bookLa seconde révolution tranquille, "When we talk about more democracy, participation and consultation, certain elected officials and certain managers say that it takes too long, that the time wasted is money lost and especially (they don't say it, but they think it) that the citizens are incompetent" (free translation, Projet Montréal).
However, much experience shows that the key to success lies in democracy. The more people involved in decisions, the more the decisions are fair, accepted and adopted, the stronger becomes the sense of responsibility, the more the sense of duty and respect increases.
Projet Montréal would like this evening to present a different way for elected municipal officials to study the budgets, those of the agglomeration, the city and its boroughs (referred to here as operating budgets), as well as the triennial capital budget.
From this point of view, Projet Montréal proposes to the municipal administration that the study of the operating budgets as well as its triennial capitalization program be conducted by a multiparty Finance and Budget Committee with a permanent status (standing committee), responsible to the municipal council. As for the other committees, the members of the finance and budget committee would be named by the mayor of Montreal, who would also be its president.
Note that the present document is an enlargement on the proposal tabled in City Council last February and briefly debated in the session of March 27th. That proposal is annexed.
First stage: Public consultation on the issues
The first task of the committee on finance and the budget will be to organize a series of information and consultation sessions on the budgetary considerations of the agglomeration, the city of Montreal, and its boroughs. In addition to municipal civil servants, participants will include citizens, elected city officials and elected officials from other levels of government, as well as representatives from community groups, unions, arts and culture groups, and certainly the business community. These sessions will have a double aim: to make everyone familiar with budgetary constraints and to arrive at the main orientations or priorities to be taken into account in preparing the budgets for the coming year.
In learning about budgetary constraints, it will be shown, for example, that maintaining present services will cost an additional amount on the order of so and so many millions of dollars, due to a variety of factors:
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-higher prices for necessary equipment and supplies, such as electricity, fuel and parts; -higher prices for services purchased, since suppliers pass on to their clients their own cost increases; -higher salaries, over 95% of the City's employees being unionized; -uncertainties about the contributions of the governments in Québec and Ottawa toward financing public transit, social housing, and culture, or about the revenues from fuel taxes, and about other new revenue sources.
Finally, citizens could also learn about the debt of the City of Montreal.
Aware of the existence of these multiple constraints, the participants in these first sessions would bring forth some general orientations or priorities to be taken into account in preparing the next year's budgets, at the level of the central city and of the agglomeration.
Second stage: Preparation of the preliminary budget
Following the consultation on the issues, the finance and budget committee would ask municipal personnel to produce the preliminary version of the operating and capital budgets. At this stage, three scenarios would be presented:
·areference scenario, based on raising property taxes and other local sources of revenue according to the rate of inflation; ·ascenario based on expenditures, stating where there will be rationalizations and, eventually, cuts in services; ·ascenario of new considerations, laying out new issues - public transit, culture, housing, or other -, the additional sums required to finance these new concerns, as well as the sources of revenues to be sought - general property tax, dedicated tax, fees or other.
Third stage: Public study of the preliminary budget
Public consultation in each of the 19 boroughs. A total of some fifty meetings to be held, throughout the boroughs. The City and the Borough jointly present the preliminary budgets (borough, city and agglomeration), showing, among other things, what the central city proposes to allocate to each of its boroughs.
Fourth stage: Preparation and adoption of the budget
The boroughs prepare the revised versions of theirs budgets, incorporating the results of the public consultation, and forward it to the City. This revised version is adopted following public debate solely among the elected officials of the borough.
The finance and budget committee prepares the revised version of the budgets, which included the revised budgets of the boroughs and the results of the public consultation. The committee makes public the revised budgets and sends them to the municipal
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council and to the agglomeration council. Concerning the budget of the City of Montreal, the executive committee presents the budget, as modified by it or not, to the municipal council, for discussion and adoption.
The municipal councillors could vote on the recommendations of the finance and budget committee modified by the executive committee. They could also amend the budget, and not simply adopt or reject it.
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ANNEX 1 From: RichardBergeron, City Councillor Plateau-Mont-Royal Borough, DeLorimier District To: Fellowmembers of the Montreal City Council Date: Councilof March 27, 2006. Proposal refused by the President on grounds of non-conformity with the City Charter. Subject:Proposal for revision of the process of preparation et adoption of the budget
The unfortunate experience of the withdrawal of the initial 2006 budget in December 2005, and the adoption of a revised 2006 budget in January, brought out the need to reconsider the way the budget of the city and its boroughs is prepared and adopted.
The new process of preparation and adoption of the budget should have the following objectives:
·End the tradition of secrecy surrounding the preparation of the budget, a tradition perhaps justified at the provincial and federal levels, but not at all at the municipal level. ·Involve the population as well as the actors and partners in municipal life in defining the management and development priorities of Montreal and its boroughs. ·Widen thereby the democratic basis of the budget. ·Make the public more aware of the inherent constraints to the preparation of a budget and to the financial consequences of the priorities and expectations expressed. ·Allow the identification of new issues and the launching of resulting projects, at the level of the city as well as the boroughs. ·Deliver Montreal and its boroughs from the present budgetary stalemate by collectively identifying and adopting new sources of revenue. ·Gain greater legitimacy for Montreal political authorities, particularly the mayor, in their discussions with higher levels of government to obtain more substantial financial support from them.
We believe that the new process of budget preparation and adoption succinctly described below will allow us to reach these objectives.
Budget preparation process: Proposal(Budget for the following year. Inspired by the budgetary preparation and adoption process of the City of Ottawa.)
The Executive Committee mandates the Finance and Budget Beginning ofCommittee(*) to conduct, in its name, the process of public March elaborationand examination of the budget. The Finance and Budget Committee invites the boroughs to March-April preparethe preliminary versions of their budgets, which they forward to the City. The Committee prepares the preliminary City budget, which May-June incorporatesthe preliminary budgets submitted by the boroughs. Organizing of budgetary information (preliminary budget) and July-September preparationfor public consultation. The Committee conducts public consultation on the budget. A October** totalof around fifty meetings is expected, throughout the boroughs. In each borough, the city and the borough present jointly the preliminary budget. The Committee invites the boroughs to prepare revised November versionsof their budgets, integrating the results of the public Weeks 1 & 2consultation, and forward them to the City. The Committee prepares the revised version of the city November budget,integrating the boroughs' revised budgets and the Weeks 3 & 4results of the public consultation. The committee makes public the revised budget and forwards it to the city council. The Executive Committee modifies or not the budget and presents it to the city council for discussion and adoption.
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(*) The Finance and Budget Committee would be a standing committee of the Council, including representatives of all parties. Like other committees, its members would be named by the Mayor of Montreal, who could also name social and economic partners as members.
(**) In an election year, the public budget consultations would take place at the same time as the election campaign. We see no objection to this, quite the contrary.*TheFinance and Budget Committeewould be a standing committee of the Council, including representatives of all parties. Like other committees, its members would be named by the City Mayor, who could also name social and economic partners as members.
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ANNEX 2
HOW TO ENCOURAGE PARTICIPATION
Questioning by Committee members is important
Intervenors may make five minute presentations. However, questioning by Committee members is essential. It is important that at least two or three members of the Committee regularly question the citizens who take the trouble to present a memorandum. This attitude would show them that the Committee was genuinely interested in their memorandum. There is nothing worse than silence by the great majority of committee members when a memorandum has been presented. One really has the impression that one's words are not important.
Debate between Committee members should be public
In Ottawa, with rare exceptions, committee sessions are open to the public. The elected officials debate before the public and the citizens have an opportunity to see what comes of their concerns. In Montreal, for the people who intervene to feel they are listened to and contribute to the debate, they need to see what happens to their concerns.Therefore the Committees must, as in Ottawa, debate their recommendations in public. It seems to us of little importance that the members have differing opinions, even if they belong to the same political party. This would show that there is a healthy divergence within political parties and that politicians are not victims of unique thinking.
This whole process would take a bit more time. However, it would certainly be more interesting. We should not expect to see huge crowds coming to the various sessions of the Finance and Budget Committee right from the beginning. It will take a few years to discover the benefits.
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