Residents have say in town budget talks

If there was ever a time residents could provide input on the Town of Ponoka’s budgeting, now would be it.

If there was ever a time residents could provide input on the Town of Ponoka’s budgeting, now would be it.

Residents are invited to provide input on the town’s 2017 budget during an open house set for Tuesday, Sept. 20 at the Kinsmen Community Centre. Can’t make it to the open house? Try the survey that can be found at Town Hall or at www.ponoka.ca.

Starting last year, residents were given a chance to provide input, something that was not done by previous councils and administrations. Mayor Rick Bonnett suggests that this is a new process so it may take time for people to be aware that they can offer their thoughts, but he wants to see this idea expand.

“It’s at least a process that we’re going to gain some knowledge from the public,” said Bonnett in an interview.

“I want to hear from the public in general…what should we spend money on?”

There has been some benefit from community feedback as seen with the new community peace officer.

“For example, last year residents told us that safe neighbourhoods were a top priority for them, so in our 2016 Budget we hired a Community Peace Officer,” explained Bonnett in a press release.

The open house will help residents understand what it takes to run a municipality and the priority steps needed to ensure infrastructure needs are met and how property taxes are determined.

Bonnett said the province wants to see municipalities come up with 10-year plans and while this creates some difficulty with a four year election cycle, he also feels these plans help with continuity of planning.

The goal with the open house and survey is to keep the process open and transparent for residents and he feels future councils will benefit from this process. Keeping with that ideal, budget deliberations are once again open to the public. Those proceedings are tentatively set for Tuesday, Nov. 1 and Wednesday, Nov. 2 at the Kinsmen Community Centre.

Survey results will be provided to council and made available to the public for review and will also be considered during budget deliberations.