City council has approved the purchase of a Citizen Budget tool which will give residents access to the City’s budgeting process and the ability to provide feedback. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

City council has approved the purchase of a Citizen Budget tool which will give residents access to the City’s budgeting process and the ability to provide feedback. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

Williams Lake opts for online citizen budget program

Residents of Williams Lake will have the ability to comment on the city’s budget process through a web-based program

Williams Lake residents will soon be able to give input on the City’s budget through a web-based program.

At Tuesday’s regular meeting, city council authorized the purchase of a Citizen Budget interactive tool that gives users access to budget information and the opportunity to provide feedback.

The program is available on a wide range of smartphones and mobile devices.

Coun. Craig Smith credited realtor Michael Jones for bringing the idea forward and said there are about 20 communities in B.C. using the program such as Prince George, Smithers, Kamloops and Vernon.

“We took it from there and we discussed it at committee of the whole,” Smith said.

Jones recently moved back to Williams Lake from Korea and told the Tribune he was happy to learn council had agreed to purchasing the program and thanked Smith and Coun. Scott Nelson for their willingness to consider an idea coming from outside the inner political circle.

“This is a sign of wise leadership,” Jones said, noting the adoption of the technology will affect a citizen’s ability to provide actual hands-on input on the budgeting process. “I think the interactive tool will help people make sense of a rather complex process, all the while enabling a person to understand how it impacts them specifically.”

Embracing new technology is the other positive thing, Jones suggested.

“This is true for all areas of our lives here,” he said. “Perhaps one day Williams Lake can begin to slowly establish itself as an alternative location for innovation and technology companies. Progress starts with small steps and the budgeting tool is a good step in the right direction.”

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Council unanimously approved increasing the finance operating budget by $2,750 annually to cover the costs of the new program.

In a report to city council, chief financial officer Vitali Kozubenko included an example from the City of Prince George’s use of Citizen Budget that included a very clear pie chart outlining where tax dollars go.