Windsor CFO takes issue with C.D. Howe Institute’s budget report card

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Windsor’s Chief Financial Officer and City Treasurer is taking issue with the C.D. Howe Institute’s budget report card that awarded the city a “C.”

While the mark is an improvement over last year’s report card, which gave Windsor an “F”, Joe Mancina told he does not agree with the Institute’s methodology.

He is not alone. The Municipal Finance Officers’ Association does too. Both suggest the public not put much stock in the report card’s findings.

The report, called “Time for an Upgrade: Fiscal Accountability in Canada’s Cities”, evaluates how clear the budgets in 31 Canadian cites are to the layperson.

Windsor lost marks for passing the budget four weeks late, and for not comparing the previous year’s spending to its budget projections. It also knocked off marks for releasing financial statements later in the year.

“The study would like to see municipal budget mirror complex municipal financial statements,” said Mancina. “That’s a bit of a problem because financial statements are prepared on an accural basis. We have to comply with public sector accounting rules and regulations. Whereas, the annual budget are prepared, principally, on a cash basis which focuses on upfront capital outlays and annual funding requirements. The report does not in any way consider this.”

The City of Windsor does release quarterly financial variance reports to City Council, a point Mancina also said the report card does not take into account.

“It’s a very detailed report looking at every single department,” he said.

The City is also a member of the Municipal Benchmarking Network which publishes a report each year.

“There are a lot of other measures that are taken to monitor budgets and variances and this report does not look at that at all,” said Mancina.

The report gave London and Edmonton an “F”, but Surrey and Vancouver B.C. were awarded an “A+.”