Steps taken to increase public awareness on budget at Vernon city hall

Vernonites will be able to access detailed information on how their money is spent.

City council voted Monday to hold an open house so residents can look at the financial statements for the proposed 2012 budget, which calls for a two per cent tax increase.

“We’re pretty close to where we’re going )with the budget) and now it needs to be presented to people,” said Coun. Catherine Lord.

“People can come look at the charts and visualize what’s happening. It’s an opportunity to talk to us.”

The city is only legislated to hold a public hearing to garner input on the budget, and that will be held in conjunction with the open house.

“People can see what’s contained in the budget and tell us if we got it right or wrong,” said Coun. Bob Spiers, who wants a lower tax rate than two per cent.

A date hasn’t been set for the open house but administration has suggested late March because of staff holidays and other time constraints.

That possibility isn’t sitting well with Lord.

“I want it as soon as possible so everything is still fresh in council’s minds,” she said of the budget process.

One council member is clarifying her role in developing the 2012 financial plan.

Coun. Juliette Cunningham is concerned a recent Morning Star article may have suggested her opposition to a two per cent tax increase meant she favoured hiking some city fees.

“I spoke against raising parking fees for downtown workers and I have never supported higher fees for criminal record checks,” she said.

Raising fees had been discussed as a possible way of increasing revenue, but no action was taken by council.


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