In the coming weeks and months, City council’s focus will be on working with staff to develop the 2014 budget.
In fact, we are already being asked by the media what the possible tax increase for next year will be.
The simple answer is that it is just too early to tell, though apparently by the looks of some Kamloops houses, it’s not too early for Christmas lights — but I digress.
City staffers have been working on a very preliminary core budget at this point and do have a very rough idea, but numbers can change quickly depending on which projects may get added to the mix and whether projected revenues are higher or lower than anticipated.
We are starting to gear up for our official public budget input sessions and hope that we continue to see a strong turnout at them.
These meetings are very important as they help council and staff get a feel for what projects or service levels are important to you and your family.
Although the official meetings are important, it’s good to remember that input on what direction the City should take on things is a 365-day process.
All nine of us on council receive comments, suggestions and advice from people in the community on a daily basis.
These conversations with people are every bit as important as the pre-scheduled meetings to find out what people are thinking.
We also have many community advisory committees that meet year round evaluating
suggestions and programs and giving feedback to council on those items.
We also receive many e-mails from residents.
If you would like to share your thoughts, firstname.lastname@example.org will ensure your
e-mail goes to all of us at once.
The budget is a very complicated document with many different accounts and funding
sources all rolling together to create a several-hundred-page book.
The good news is that we don’t require you to be a municipal budgeting expert to give us input and information we can use.
When you break our budget down to the basics, the dollars that we ultimately need to run the city boil down to service levels.
How quickly you would like the snow cleared, grass in parks cut, social programs, arts funding, pools open and streets repaired is what really drives the numbers.
In past years, we have heard clearly from people that they would not like to see services cut.
Is that still the case?
If not, where would you like to see reductions or expansion take place?
That is the type of discussion that will help us the most in developing our budget.
So if you have stayed away from budget meetings or haven’t bothered to share your thoughts with us in the past because you thought you weren’t good with numbers, have no fear, we have highly trained staff to figure out the numbers.
We just need to hear from you about what service levels to approve so they can figure out what those numbers will wind up being.
Peter Milobar is mayor of the City of Kamloops.