Getting citizen input into the annual budget process

Do you have a project or an idea that could positively impact our community?

STEVE CHRISTIE

Do you have a project or an idea that could positively impact our community? City council is looking for your input into the 2015 budget.

Annual budgets are drafted by City administration before being debated and adopted by council. Now, council, staff and citizens will all contribute to the budget with an objective of finding the right balance between investing in quality public service, while keeping Lacombe tax rates low without compromising service levels.

From July 1st to Aug. 30th, we are asking residents to share their ideas for consideration in next year’s operating and capital budgets. This is your chance to tell us what is important to you.

Go to www.lacombe.ca/budgetsubmissions to communicate your own ideas about what the municipality should focus on for the next budget cycle. Your submissions can be operating or capital in nature, and can include services, facilities or resources for programs. Council will review citizen submissions to determine which projects will be approved for costing by City administration, and further considered as part of our annual budget deliberations.

Our budget priorities will be based on the six pillars identified in the 2014-2017 City of Lacombe Strategic Plan.

The first of these pillars is having a safe, healthy and vibrant community. We want to have multi-sectoral collaborations that integrate social, economic and environmental goals to benefit the whole community and strengthen its capacity.

Lacombe’s strategic plan also outlines land resources and acquisitions as a pillar. We want to create an inventory of properly designated and zoned lands to support future development within the municipality.

Operations regarding infrastructure growth and asset management make up the third pillar. We want to keep the delivery of infrastructure services that residents rely on well planned, well-built and well-maintained.

Lacombe’s economic prosperity also makes up a pillar in the strategic plan. We want to create a uniquely defined, liveable community coupling heritage preservation with development that encourages industrial development, a growing commercial tax base and is inclusive of strong quality of life component. There are development guidelines and defined community economic development roles.

Lacombe wants to excel in operations as well. We want to have elements of leadership stressing the application of principles and tools to improve performance that will enhance process efficiency, reduce costs and improve customer service.

Finally, we want to have a relationship with the community. The City will use various methods to establish and maintain mutually beneficial relationship with residents, businesses organization and government services through consultation, transparent communication and an interest in measuring customer experiences to build trust, support and cooperation.

Your ideas have a better chance for success if they are well thought out, and compatible with the above six pillars. Each public submission will be reviewed and evaluated; however, we may not be able to incorporate all of the input that is received into the 2015 budget.

A simple majority of council members is prerequisite in determining which citizen submissions are referred to administration for costing purposes. Once costed, only the submissions endorsed by council will become part of the annual budget deliberations.

Staff will prepare the final proposed budget, which will be distributed to council in mid- October in preparation for the council budget workshop in mid-November. We will deliberate the budget at a regular meeting of council in November, before adopting the operating and capital budgets in December.

The final budget, inclusive of public submissions and comments, will be shared with the public in December.

As mayor, I am proud to say that by soliciting citizen input, we are creating a greater level of transparency in the City’s annual budgetary process. This new initiative will give citizens access to aspects of the budget process like never before, and is a great example of participatory democracy in action.

Steve Christie is the mayor of Lacombe.