Niagara Falls councillors say they want to see budgets brought forward sooner, so the city isn’t missing out on deals when it comes to tendering and purchasing.
Coun. Joyce Morocco said the question of how council can get the budget a lot sooner has come up “time and time again.”
“It’s about having a fair playing field for when it comes time to dealing with contractors,” Morocco told Niagara Now. “We don’t want to miss an opportunity.”
She said having the budget approved earlier helps staff have sufficient time to deal with getting tenders out and bids back in.
“The big job that we have is some people know that you’re on a time crunch, well then they hold you ransom to well, you’ve got to pay this (amount) … There’s been times where we’re still looking at (the budget) in the next year. Lets say for example, here we are in 2017 and we’re not really passing 2018’s budget until January, February and even as late as March.”
The city approved its capital budget on Dec. 12, but Morocco told council she’d like to see the budget come to councillors around September or October.
“When you have the ability to have your budget approved earlier, you then definitely have the ability to negotiate tendering and purchasing. (Negotiating) is a little bit easier when you have a little bit of a head start out there,” said Morocco.
Other municipalities already have their budgets approved, like St. Catharines, the Niagara Region and Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Todd Harrison, director of finance for Niagara Falls, said the city has a different budget process than those municipalities, which have budget committees that “have the press hat and they talk about it.”
“St. Catharines has a public forum where their budget committee goes and they start in April,” Harrison said.
He continued: “You know, this has been a criticism of staff in the past, that the capital budget going out at the end of February or March, we’re missing that tethering window.”
Harrison said the city will be going forward with budgets earlier in the future.
“I think that’s what council has indicated that they want us to do … Our prices have been good for the most part, but maybe we’ll get better pricing by going out earlier, being prepared.”