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Public input on budget cut short

Coun. Bob Spiers says the City of Vernon will miss an opportunity if it scraps the final budget input meeting.
Image Credit: (SOURCE/City of Vernon)
February 15, 2013 - 12:45 PM

By Charlotte Helston

Council has decided that because no one comes anyway, they won't bother with a final input session on the 2013 budget. There have been three opportunities for public input, and most councillors feel that is enough. But one councillor disagrees; he thinks scrapping a last chance for input is a missed opportunity.

"I imagine on this particular budget we'd have had more input from businesses on things like the parking rate," Coun. Bob Spiers says.

He says at least for the past decade, there has always been an input session scheduled closer to the early April budget deadline. It's important, he says, to give residents a chance to speak on a more complete budget, after most edits have been made.

"I guess the rest of council felt the public had the budget in front of them on the website, and with three consecutive days for input, they thought that was enough," Spiers says.

At this point in the process, Spiers admits public input doesn't usually change much. On the rare occasion though, he says public opinion has been enough to make council lower the increase at the eleventh hour.

This year's increase currently sits at 3.95 per cent ($45 for the average home). Last year's was 1.7 per cent, so it's a significant rise. But not as big as 10 per cent, which stands out as one of the highest ever for Coun. Catherine Lord. That was around the year 2000.

Lord says she pushed for an evening meeting around this time last year, but only one person showed up.

"I still would've liked one in the evening," Lord says, noting this year's three sessions were scheduled for 11:30 a.m. while many people are at work.

"There would have been input for sure," Spiers says. "It's probably the highest increase in four to five years."

Of the 3.95 per cent, 1.9 will be put towards repairing the city's aging infrastructure.

Lord and Spiers note the public is able to contact council or city staff by phone or email if they have questions or comments.

"Anything the people want to say about the budget helps," Spiers says.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infotelnews.ca or call (250)309-5230

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013
InfoTel News Ltd

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