Letter: Mayor takes issue with column

The following letter is a response to the column Conservative Views: Whose Budget is it Anyway? published Mar. 13 online and in print Mar. 19.

Dear Editor,

I understand that the column “Conservative Views” is an opinion piece and reflects the sole opinion of the writer. However, I would like to offer clarification to your readers on one item in this piece that is factually incorrect.

The following statement was included in the opinion piece: “But they failed to get that “line by line” review of the town’s finances on which many of them won votes last October. One wonders that if Council had been given access to the detailed accounts, they might not have doubled the operational review budget and shortened its timeframe.”

Through the months of January and February 2014, Council spent approximately 35 hours in scheduled Budget workshops with our CAO and the senior Administrative Team. Together we went through every department’s detailed budget line by line and offered comments and suggestions on changes, reductions and priorities. If an individual Councillor felt that there was further discussion needed in any area, they had the ability to bring that forward as an amendment during any of the three readings of the Budget during public Council meetings. That was evident by the large number of amendments made to the Budget at all three of our Council meetings.

Our Council is committed to having an open and transparent budget process. In addition to our 35 hours of budget workshops and time spent discussing the budget during our public Council meetings, we had 8 hours of public consultations with our Budget Open Houses and presentations at Heritage Lodge, the Rotary Club and Chamber of Commerce meetings. We also accepted input through social media, email and an online budget survey.

A budget should not be viewed as “Administration’s” or “Council’s” as the article inferred. It should be the Community’s budget – with requests and recommendations from Administration and input from the public through Council. As with anything, there is always room for improvement and I welcome any comments or suggestions on how we can revise the current budget process by email at mayor@morinville.ca.

Thank-you.

Lisa Holmes
Mayor, Town of Morinville

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3 Comments

  1. Lisa, I know multiple councillors had requested additional information in order to make an informed decision, such as what the MCCC costs per year to operate. Would you say that council was fully satisfied with the information received from Administration to make informed budget decisions?

  2. Mayor and council are the ones who ultimately approve the budget, so they are the ones who must accept the praise or scorn that goes with such responsibility. You cannot abdicate responsibility for that decision by saying it is the community’s budget. It is a community budget that Council passed on our behalf and that we have to live with. A good leader takes in all the information, asks questions, reflects, then makes the decision. They then communicate the decision and accept responsibility for it – good or bad. Remember the promises of transparency AND accountability that were made during the election campaign? Living with complaints over such decisions is toughest part of the job. As the old saying goes, “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.” Mayor and Council made the decision, now own it.

  3. OK Mayor Holmes, let’s examine a little of the content of YOUR letter…

    You tell us that you and Council spent, over a two-MONTH period, a grand total of 35 HOURS in budget workshops – not even a total of three DAYS! You also try to convince us that you examined each department’s portion of the budget and offered “…comments and suggestions…”. While this may have satisfied YOU, I personally believe that you SHOULD have given DIRECTION to the staff – THAT, is what leaders are paid to do. As well, what transpired during those 35 hours appears to NOT be a matter of public record, we are asked to believe you when you TELL us what YOU say transpired… and THAT Mayor, is unlikely to happen. I guess the $64,000.00 question to come from this is: What is the TOTAL dollar value of those ‘adjustments’ made as a result of your 35 hours of “line by line examination”?

    You consistently use the buzzwords “…open and transparent…” to describe the process, and yet the results of your 35 hours of ‘workshop’ remain a deep, black pit to the general public.

    It seems to me, Your Honour, that Ms. Stromner had it bang-on. You have NOT shown that her article was in any way, shape or form “…factually incorrect…”. Rather, it appears she hit the nail right on the head and has done her job of informing the public of what transpired at that Council meeting.

    You can, as usual, ignore letters and comments from the public but please, do NOT ever try to convince us that Ms. Stromner’s article was “…factually incorrect…”

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