Spallumcheen budget focus of input

Residents will have a couple of opportunities to ask questions about the 2015 budget

Spallumcheen residents will have a couple of opportunities to ask questions and provide input into the township’s 2015 budget talks.

Staff have laid out for council its proposed budget deliberation schedule, and originally had set one public consultation date – Feb. 2 at 6 p.m. – after the first draft of the budget had been created.

“I think the public consultation is a bit early in the process,” said Coun. Christine Fraser of the proposed schedule.

“To me, the public consolation is a bit early because it’s after the second draft that it is closer to what the actual budget is going to be. I always think later on would be better when the budget draft more accurate as opposed to the first preliminary draft.”

Brian Freeman-Marsh, chief financial officer, said, historically, the public consultations have been held near the end of the draft process, but that only a handful of people would show up.

“The people who did show, it would be too late in the process for their input to make any changes.”

Mayor Janice Brown asked if two public consultation dates could be included in the schedule.

“We could probably incorporate both,” said administrator Corey Paiement.

“What we’re proposing is to meet an hour before council, at 6 p.m., and the public can talk to me, or Brian, or any members of councils who attend.

“Often times, the first public sessions sees people provide ideas and ask questions of the first draft. After the draft is more refined, there could be a second opportunity for public comment on the more refined draft.”

Brown said in her talks with residents during the November election campaign, she heard how residents want council to be prudent when it comes to spending.

The first draft of the budget will be presented at a committee of the whole meeting Jan. 19.

The second public consultation meeting will take place in April, though a definitive date had not been established.

Three readings of the 2015 financial plan bylaw are slated to be read April 20 and it is anticipated the final budget will be adopted on May 4.