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Mayor not surprised by time spent on budget items

April 14, 2014 - 3:37 PM

KAMLOOPS - News last week showing council's preoccupation with small-time items in this year's budget discussions may have raised a few eyebrows, but not Mayor Peter Milobar.

The Kamloops Mayor says the relationship between time and dollar value is pretty common across all municipalities.

“Fundamentally it doesn't surprise me, the inverse relationship between time and dollar value,” he says. 

We broke down time councillors spent discussing discretionary budget items this year and found 75 per cent of it was spent discussing just 15 per cent of expenditures.

Milobar says that's often just how it's done.

“Sometimes bigger projects are so big and technical in scope and scale they're pretty self-explanatory... the technical report covers it all," he says. "So it's not surprising some of the bigger ticket items move through quicker."

Councillors are also more likely to discuss bigger ticket items well before budget times.

“Sometimes you feel more comfortable where you stand on some projects because you've put thought and conversation into it already.”

It's also the larger items council members often discuss with the public when out on the street or at the coffee shop.

“I didn't have any great conversations in the community about $7,500 (video enhancements in the council chambers) but I did have people talking about the performing arts centre, Kermode bear habitat, water park, etc.,” Milobar notes. “The lead-in piece to the bigger items is much more a regular conversation in council and at coffee shops, it's much easier to talk about things you understand.”

Milobar notes they used a survey to cut the original list of items to review to fewer than 30 from more than 100 at two meetings.

So why does it take so long for council to get through the smaller items though?

“Everyone on council has the responsibility to ask questions, to have input. The collective does control the pace of the meeting,” he notes, adding: “Budgets are tough, they're complex.... We're not playing games.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jennifer Stahn at jstahn@infotelnews.ca or call 250-819-3723. To contact an editor for this story, email mjones@infotelnews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014
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