The City of Lacombe is implementing an innovative new method to receive public input in the annual budget process.
In the past, the City of Lacombe has sought input into the budget process by hosting a budget open house. In recent years, attendance to these open houses has been quite low, with approximately five persons attending in 2013 and 40 in 2012.
At a regular meeting of council on May 12, council considered a new method of seeking public input in order to better engage the public. This new method would see taxpayers make submissions to City Hall and council during the summer with council beginning to evaluate them in the fall.
Councillor Reuben Konnik said he thought the new method was a good idea but did not agree with it replacing the budget open houses as originally proposed.
“I think it’s a terrific idea,” said Konnik. “I think it’s great we are getting suggestions from citizens. I wouldn’t put the kibosh to the budget open house just so quick though. It does speak to the transparency we have been trying to go after, so I’m not sure I would get rid of that but I would certainly like to see this be done and still have a budget open house as well, for at least one more year.”
Councillor Wayne Armishaw agreed and made the motion to adopt the new strategy for the trial period of one year with the friendly amendment that the budget open houses continue as well.
“I’m prepared to give this a try.”
This new system would attempt to engage the public by heavily advertising for submissions starting in June and then accepting those submissions from the public through July and August. In September, citizens would receive confirmation of receipt for their submissions and council would evaluate and prioritize submissions, deciding which they wish to pursue, when and how. In October, council would review costing for the selected submissions and have them included in the draft budget presented to council. In her brief presentation to council, Financial Manager Theresa Musser stated that such a method has been used with great success in Beaumont for about a decade and more recently has been adopted by the City of Calgary which has also seen considerable success using this method.
Council voted unanimously in favour of Armishaw’s motion.