Williams Lake City Council to start budget discussions earlier

City council is hoping to start budget discussions earlier and engage more people this time around.

Building on last year’s efforts to engage the public in budget discussions, city council is hoping to start budget discussions earlier and engage more people this time around.

There’ll be a half hour set aside at the beginning of each budget meeting for the public to make comments, the city’s website will provide constant updates on budget information, and there’ll be a spot on the website for people to give feedback. “We’re inviting the public to come out and share their thoughts,” Mayor Kerry Cook said. “The online tool will help keep residents informed and up to date, as well as providing a convenient way to submit comments.”

Council passed a motion asking staff to bring forward a status-quo budget with supplementals based on the strategic goals and priorities of council; however, Cook said she couldn’t endorse the motion.

“I am not in favour of a status-quo budget with additional items. The direction I wanted to give when we had our budget meeting on Sept. 5 was if we were going to look at any increased levels of supplementals that that would come off the current budget.”

During that meeting Cook made a motion that there be no new staffing increases resulting in an increase in the budget, but the motion was defeated.

Coun. Surinderpal Rathor said by asking staff to bring forward a status-quo budget with supplementals it does not mean he’s going to approve everything that comes before him.

“Staff will have to bring its report before council and council will have to make its decision.”

Staff will also be asked to submit different 2013 budget scenarios, including a zero per cent,1.5 per cent, and three per cent tax increase.

“I want to congratulate my colleagues. No one agreed with me to bring a zero per cent increase option last year. Bringing a zero increase forward will let people see what kind of impact it will have,” Rathor said.

The link to the budget tab is at the bottom of the city’s homepage, or can be accessed directly at http://www.williamslake.ca/index.asp?p=2238