Council approves new policy to guide spending budget surpluses
Gatineau approved the new policy on managing budget surplus in the March 21 municipal council meeting. The policy will provide a framework for the allocation and optimization of the surplus.
In the past, a distribution of surpluses was made but there is no specific set of rules that govern the process. This policy is based on the policies in force in Montréal, Quebec City, Laval, Terrebonne and Saguenay.
The policy will allocate surpluses based on Gatineau's priorities and financial obligations in a specific order. First, the budget planning reserve is funds for future expenditures and acquisitions. Reserves are annual surpluses that are reserved for specific purposes. The money then goes to the sound management reserve which aims to mitigate financial risks, then to the contingency fund for large and non-recurring expenses. After this the excess surplus to enhance funding for Gatineau’s strategic priorities.
In the presentation made to the council during the February 21 comité plénier meeting, the outlined priorities for excess surplus allocated 40% of the amount for additional assistance for affordable housing, another 40% for initiatives related to the climate plan, and then 20% to enhance envelopes for capital projects. This allocation was recommended by the executive committee.
However, Steven Moran, Hull-Wright councillor, proposed to keep the same priorities for an excess surplus but removed the percentages. Decisions on how much is allocated will be discussed by the council when the financial statements are to be adopted. The proposal was seconded by Daniel Champagne, du Versant councillor and adopted by the council.
A review of the policy is to take place every four years.
“We are demonstrating that the City of Gatineau is committed to sound management of its citizens' money. This policy serves as a guide for setting the use of operating surpluses. In doing so, we sort of depoliticize the allocation of the surplus and allocate it to the priorities of the council’s agenda,” said Gatineau Mayor, France Bélisle. “Improving the performance of our city and acting according to best financial practices is a priority for me, we are moving forward!”