It’s the time of the year when city councillors earn their paltry pay. The few weeks where nobody can claim that those we elect are not doing their jobs.
It’s budget time and during these days council chambers becomes a pressure cooker filled with an endless stream of numbers and daunting decisions.
Over the last few weeks politicians have been holed up on the second floor of City Hall listening to reports from the various departments. From police to public works, the managers have arrived to council chambers to fill the heads of veteran and rookie politicians. It’s during these sessions that decision makers get a somewhat detailed sketch of the inner workings of every department and the challenges that lay ahead.
Now that the information has come to a boil, it’s time for council to get cooking on filling in the budget blanks. It’s not going to be easy.
These are difficult days for communities and those who live in them. It’s hardly the best of times for the global, national, provincial and local economy. The high times of a few years back are ancient history and the reality of the bleak present is what we all grapple with.
Councillor Donna Macdonald is a wise local politician and her latest column spells it out. There is no need to panic, but local taxpayers should get brace for what’s to come. With rising costs, expectations for quality services and a public with very little tolerance for tax increases, the puzzle is near impossible to solve. Something has to give and it’s the seven people we sent to City Hall this past November who will make the final call.
Once the city sets its provisional budget for the year ahead they will follow course and bring it to the public through an open house in middle March. That’s when council takes a break and the job of informed citizens begins.