April 10, 2014 - 8:13 AM
HOW COUNCILLORS SPENT TIME DEBATING BUDGET
KAMLOOPS — Councillors spent 75 per cent of this year's budget debating just 15 per cent of expenditures.
We know, because we've been tracking the 275 minutes councillors spent publicly debating the city's supplementary budget—their wish list above fixed costs of running the city. We suspected—and confirmed—councillors would spend most of their time discussing minor items on the list.
For example, they spent 55 minutes on future transit needs (no cost this year but $132,000 in 2015 and then $442,000 going forward) and more than 150 minutes were spent discussing just under $400,000 in requests (valued up to $50,000 each.)
Meanwhile, they took only 68 minutes to approve $2.2 million in items, projects and personnel (at least a $50,001 value individually) in this year's budget.
They spent 11 minutes discussing $7,500 on improved video equipment for council chambers—the lowest cost item on the list. The most costly item, the $725,000 Todd Road pedestrian upgrades, passed in just two minutes—and staff confirmed an estimated $400,000 of that work will likely be ripped up in 2019 when further road improvements are done.
After they passed Todd Road improvements, active transportation funding ($250,000) and a traffic signal at Columbia Street and 11 or 12 Avenue ($25,000) during a March 25 meeting, even Mayor Peter Milobar quipped at how little time council spent discussing the bigger items.
“We burned through that million quickly,” he said, elliciting laughter from the rest of council.
While Milobar did try to rein in discussion, some councillors were intent on being heard on nearly every item—even if it was simply to agree with or reiterate what everyone else had already said.
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It's hard to justify every minute spent, a lot of time can be spent talking about items behind closed doors, or to Joe Public on the street, or simply lobbying each other outside of meetings, so for this story we looked at just the meetings actually held in council chambers to discuss the 2014 supplementary budget.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014