Yesterday, I raised my concerns about the lack of consultations and transparency around Budget 2018. Councillor Froude and I issued a joint statement about our disappointment and frustration around the process leading up to the budget, which will soon be made public. Each December, the City’s annual budget is ratified by Council. Last year, revenues and expenditures were balanced at $294.4 million.
To help inform spending decisions in the 2017 operating budget, the City launched Budget Consultations in July 2017 and engagement continued into November.
Engagement included the following (read more here):
- Online budget consultation beginning July and extending into November
- “My City Days” ward-based sessions in October and November
- Consultations with city committees August to November
- Roundtables with key stakeholders on November 2
- Release of “What we heard” engage document November 9
5 months of consultation leading up to the budget led to a lot of engagement from the public. I believe the public deserves to have a say in how tax dollars are spent every year. The difference between 2017 and 2018 consultations isn’t due to the three-year budget cycle. They are both off-years in the 2016–2018 budget cycle if the argument is that 2016 is the focus for engagement being the first year. Nor is the election a good reason for not consulting. Focused, official consultations are different from individual campaigning!
I want to see immediate action on a public engagement strategy for the 2019-2021 3-year Budget, as well as consultations for the 2018 Capital Budget, which will be delivered in the Spring.
My experience in politics has taught me so far that the general public, when given the opportunity, have a lot of ideas and passion for the City they live in, and that the more we as politicians draw upon it, the more collectively strong and informed we all become.
The bottom line that is that it is important that everyone participate, become involved, and stay informed on how the City spends its money. This is not the best we can do.