It doesn’t seem like that long since we were discussing the 2017 budget, and now budget discussions are looming for the 2018 version.
In fact, it isn’t that long. The 2017 budget discussions were delayed to give our new chief administrative officer, Peter Weeber, time to get up to speed, and this year, the city is getting their traditional early start on the process.
Without a doubt, though, these three days (sort of) of budget discussions are the most important time of the year for city council, as they wade through the plans, needs and desires of the many departments that make up city hall.
The discussions are not usually well-attended; the public audience is typically limited to those with a direct interest in whatever topic is on the floor a the moment.
We have to applaud city hall’s attempt to reach out to the public ahead of the budget talks in a series of meetings. However, it remains to be seen what information from those meetings gets passed on to council, and what they do with it.
In the eyes of some community members, this council has misread or ignored feedback from the public in their past decision-making processes.
Gauging public opinion is a tricky thing. Some desires on the part of the public are not reasonable when you start adding in factors like how much money the city has available. No one wants to see a tax increase — forecast for three per cent in 2018 — the reality is we are still paying for those years with no tax increases, which were mostly met with public approval.
With ongoing infrastructure costs, the need for a new arena, renovations of Skaha Marina and more, city council is going to have to make some tough decisions. So take the chances offered to get involved and tell council what your vision for Penticton’s future is — it’s important that all views are represented.