For the first time in many years, Town of Ponoka residents will be included in the budget process.
Residents will be able to help influence and shape the future of Ponoka during a budget open house, set for 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 9 at the Hudson Green Nature and Activity Centre.
This year planners are giving residents a voice in where they want to see money channelled, said Donna Brinkworth, communications officer with the Town of Ponoka.
Last year, council opened the doors – also a first – to the budget deliberation process, which saw some interest from residents. This next step is to further improve that process.
“What we want to do with the budget is get a feeling of what matters most to people,” explained Brinkworth.
She says no stone will be left unturned when looking at ideas for Ponoka’s future and determining where money should go. “Every idea we get, we’re going to list it.”
To help guide residents, a survey is being provided with areas of focus such as thinking of Ponoka as a place for young families, seniors, sports and recreation, business and industry and other areas such as infrastructure needs.
“When we go forward with the budget we (will) have a sense of values,” said Brinkworth of the survey.
Residents are asked to prioritize answers in the survey from one to five and there are spaces for additional comments.
Another question asks: If you could spend $20,000, or add $50 to everyone’s annual property taxes, what would you like to see this money spent on?
“It will help shape the vision for Ponoka,” said Brinkworth.
Other questions relate to what residents like about Ponoka and what they would like to see remain the same. Surveys will be made available online, at the workshop and drop boxes around the community.
Brinkworth said once all the data is compiled, the information will be provided to the public to provide them with an idea of what is important to residents.
The more people who take part in the open house and the survey, the better planners and councillors will be able to set a vision for Ponoka, added Brinkworth.
Part of the open house will have councillors asking informal questions to residents. Brinkworth says this is a chance for council to listen to what matters most to residents.
This first open house will be a framework for expanding to the town’s open budget deliberation process, said Brinkworth. She said council wants to continue to improve on engaging residents.
Treats will be made available to attendees as well.