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Dozens of budget motions being considered by council

Last week of budget deliberations got underway Tuesday

By: Victoria Paterson

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013 06:00 am

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The end of the budget process is close as budget debate got underway at city council last night.

The last scheduled day of debate is Thursday, with approval of the budget anticipated at council’s regular meeting on Dec. 16. Council has been holding budget deliberation meetings since Nov. 26.

“I don’t have any question in my mind that we’ll approve the budget Monday in some fashion,” said Mayor Nolan Crouse on Monday.

Crouse has the made the most budget-related motions so far, with rookie Coun. Sheena Hughes not far behind, entering more than two dozen motions apiece. The rest of council had not come anywhere close to matching the volume seen by Hughes or Crouse as of Monday.

Motions, which range from delaying a proposed museum expansion until after housing for the finance department is decided to putting aside money for a low-flush toilet rebate program, cover the various budgets being considered by council.

Crouse said one of the trends he spots in the motions already made – there were 90 as of Monday – is that thanks to a lack of a strategic planning meeting for the new council prior to going into the budget process, council members’ individual priorities are making themselves clear in the motions put forth.

“We haven’t given clear direction to city staff on priorities,” Crouse said. “In a perfect world we have a priorities and planning session before we have a budget.”

A trend he sees in his own motions is a desire to delay or reduce the funds for a number of proposed budget items.

Crouse is sure that council will finish voting on all the motions by the end of Thursday night. During last week’s Dec. 5 budget meeting he asked council to commit to stay as long as needed this Thursday to get through the voting process.

It’s been a longer than usual budget deliberation process, with three weeks of twice-weekly meetings, so that newly elected councillors are thoroughly educated. It’s been hard to stick to the schedule because of the amount of knowledge transfer needed, Crouse said.

“As the mayor and as the chair it’s been a real challenge to be able to get through it,” Crouse said.

A list of the postponed motions that are being debated this week is available online at www.stalbert.ca/budget2014.


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