Tomorrow's potential, starts today! The plan and the path to financial sustainability and growth
Welcome to the Sustainable Saint John webpage. We encourage you to watch and share our new video, and continue to check this page for updates as we implement our Sustainability Plan.
As background, the City of Saint John has been working for several years to address our budget gap. With the COVID-19 crisis adding pressure to our bottom line, we need to continue to implement our action plans so that our finances are in good shape for the long-term. For a list of immediate actions required to address our deficit, read the Deficit Action Plan in the related documents section.
This summary outlines our plan to address the immediate priority of balancing the 2021 and 2022 budgets. It also details the longer-term work needed with the province and our regional partners to close the gap.
Addressing the deficit alone is not enough to put Saint John on a sustainable financial path; it is a two-year solution that will enable us to control costs until transformational reforms take hold. For long-term sustainability, we must couple our short-term cost-control measures with these reforms. Only then will the Saint John region truly succeed. Read Advocating for Reforms for more information.
The City is pleased to be working with the Minister of Local Government and Local Governance Reform to move our initiatives forward.
THE $10 MILLION PLAN TO ADDRESS THE DEFICIT
HOW WE WILL BALANCE THE BUDGET
Step one to creating a stable financial future is to address Saint John’s $10-million budget deficit in each of 2021 and 2022. After more than a year of gathering ideas, analyzing and refining, we have a viable and achievable plan.
- $6 million in workforce adjustments: Achieved through collective bargaining and reducing the number of employees. Approved by Common Council.
- $1.13 million in continuous improvement initiatives: Achieved through staff’s ongoing commitment to find savings and increased efficiencies across all services. This has been an ongoing achievement.
- $3 million in carefully planned service reductions, increased user fees, and lower spending: Achieved through an “all-options-on-the-table” approach that minimizes impacts on the community.
REVIEWS AND AUDITS
Step two on the financial sustainability path involves conducting and considering recommendations from comprehensive reviews and audits to find efficiencies and better ways to serve the community and support the broader Saint John region.
- Internal Structural Review: Adjust the organizational structure to achieve a number of improvements, such as enhanced customer service, centralized functions, improved cyber security and more, while reducing its overall size.
- Transit Review: Conducted by Stantec to improve management and operations, enhance service and minimize spending. Stakeholder engagement is underway with Recommendations coming soon.
- New Economic Development Model: Take a regional focus with the City of Saint John at the centre. Concept paper has been developed and supported, with the City of Saint John as the anchor.
- Other Reviews: Each Regional facility is under review, along with associated infrastructure. In addition, two independent reviews have been conducted to find efficiencies and improve effectiveness: Ernst and Young (Operational Audit), Deloitte (Saint John Energy Audit). Based on the findings and recommendations of these reviews, the City will further analyze the options and bring them to Common Council for decision.
TRANSFORMATIONAL REFORMS - PARTNERING FOR GROWTH
Step three on the path is provincial and regional reforms. The Government of New Brunswick has recognized that the City of Saint John is doing everything within our power to address our financial challenges. However, we can only go so far on our own. We need collaboration, cooperation and change from the province, greater Saint John region and other municipalities. Only then will we see the region reach its full potential.
- Comprehensive Property Tax Reform: The province has committed to complete property tax reform on a 60-year old system by 2022. We will continue to work with the province as a municipal partner in this undertaking.
- Municipal Empowerment to Generate Revenues: Removing the for-profit restrictions within the Local Governance Act would allow the City to explore and develop new revenue streams for growth.
- Regional Cost Sharing and Regionalization of Services: A Regional Management Task Force is at work to look at opportunities. The province commissioned two reports, and based on results, we need the province to take action. There is great opportunity to act together, in the best interest of the entire region, to rise up stronger than we were before.
- Wage Escalation Control: We have implemented a number of financial policies, including a wage escalation policy to control the increase of city workforce wages in an affordable and fair manner.
- Binding Arbitration Reform: The eight cities in New Brunswick all advocate for reforms for a more efficient, accountable and transparent system, that considers a municipality’s financial health and ability to pay costs awarded to first responders (police and fire), who cannot go on strike.
CITY IMPERATIVES GOING FORWARD
We are doing our job to get on the right path. We will look to the strong leadership within the Government of New Brunswick to act on the necessary long-term reforms. Together, we are committed to success for Saint John.
- Implementation the plan to balance the 2021 and 2022 budgets
- Seek action from the Province to enable the above reforms needed to sustain our region
- Continue to control costs
- Advocate and work in partnership to increase municipal revenues
- Act together as a region to spur growth that will benefit us all
|POTENTIAL FOR APPROXIMATELY $20 MILLION IN ADDITIONAL REVENUE||BALANCED BUDGETS FOR 2021 AND 2022|