By law the Town of Ladysmith has to establish each year a budget and create a five-year financial plan. When developing the budget, council is to undertake a public consultation prior to adoption. Notification of this public consultative process, “must be in a newspaper that is distributed at least weekly,” and this notice must be published once each week for two consecutive weeks.
Have you seen any town notices about public budget meetings in the paper? I checked the public notice boards around town and I could not see anything posted notifying the public of any public meetings on the budget. I also checked the town’s website and I couldn’t find anything about the time or place of any meeting. This leads me to wonder how can the public have any meaningful input into these budget meetings if it isn’t informed as to when or where they are being held?
In comparison, the City of Duncan posted notices in their local papers inviting the public to two open houses to review and discuss their Financial Plan. This was done weeks in advance of having to pass their budget. They published their proposed tax, their municipal tax rates and the reasons for the increases. They asked everyone to come and participate in their “Open House” to help shape the budget. The notice also said that the public’s “assistance would be most helpful to guide council in considering this draft financial plan.”
Why can’t our council be as open in establishing our Financial Plan? Why does the public have to search to find out what is happening? How does the town expect the public to have constructive input in establishing our town’s budget if we don’t know where or when they can offer their assistance?
Do you think that the town is meeting its lawful requirement for a “ public consultation process?” A public process, should have started months ago, then council and staff would have time to receive and evaluate the public’s input. It is too late for this year’s budgeting process, but let’s hope that they make the process public friendly like Duncan did this year, next year.