The Town of Strathmore Committee of the Whole discussed during their most recent meeting, Feb. 8, their feedback to administration regarding the newly implemented budget process for 2023. 

As the system for determining and approving the town’s budget had seen significant overhaul, administration asked Town Council members for their feedback regarding the new process. 

Mayor Pat Fule noted immediately his support for the new process, and how much of an improvement it was over previous years. 

“The process I found was really good. I found the information brought to us was very clear to follow, it tied in well with our strategic priorities, and I think … it was probably the best format that I have been involved in,” he said. “I felt like I really understood far more than I did in past terms. I like the process and I like the strategic plan review we also did that tied back to budget.”

Councillor Brent Wiley, largely echoing Fule’s sentiment, added for a first-time councillor he was pleased to see the process was easy to understand. 

“It was a very good experience, I felt like I knew exactly what was going on along the way, the process from November until it finally passed I thought was very smooth,” he said.

Despite this, he explained there were several areas where there was room for opportunity to improve the process further. Two had been noted by administration in the committee agenda, and two he brought forward. 

These included the suggestion for a rubric for community groups to come in and present to council regarding funding requests, obtaining a clear mandate from council early on in terms of acceptable percentage increase, more accessible references to council spending recommendations, and to attach user fee increases to the acceptable per cent increase notes in addition to property tax increases.

“Small increases can still be in the tens of thousands for the town,” said Wiley. “I know we are not talking millions, but it is still worthwhile as part of the discussion.”

Councillor Jason Montgomery, similarly echoing satisfaction with the new process, added his own note to the discussion. 

“The only part of the whole process that I was not a huge fan of was when we had the public coming in and making requests – I have no problems making decisions about those types of things, I just feel like maybe there are better ways to go about that,” he said.

Montgomery suggested that groups requesting funding speak with administration ahead of council in order to determine more realistic funding requests for their projects and have a higher likelihood of getting approved, should the town be able to afford supporting the project.

The full notes regarding the debrief are available in the Committee of the Whole agenda for Feb. 8. Further councillor comments can be referenced in the meeting recording posted on the Town YouTube channel.

By John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Feb 16, 2023

This item reprinted with permission from   Strathmore Times   Strathmore, Alberta

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