Callander’s municipal staff are bringing the budget to the people, posting information aplenty on the municipal website and social media about the budget process and the many factors affecting the final numbers. Plans are well underway to have the 2024 budget passed this December, and council has given staff the direction to keep increases in the 2 to 3 per cent range.
“We ran through what we could to do to improve the understanding of the municipal budget cycle,” explained Ashley Bilodeau, Callander’s Senior Municipal Director. She was referring to discussions at the ad-hoc budget committee, which came up with ideas to make the budget process more open to the public.
Yes, the municipality has a budget policy that guides staff and council through the budget process, but over the past few years, Mayor Robb Noon has been encouraging ways to promote all things budget to the people. “This summer we did that,” Bilodeau said.
“The goal is to make the public more aware and understanding of the process.”
How so? The town has posted a series of videos and posters on its website and social media covering all aspects of creating municipal budgets. One post details the purpose of a Strategic Plan, and how this municipal plan helps to lay the groundwork of a budget.
See: It’s official, Callander has set 2023 tax rates
Questions about which municipal assets are tax-funded? Callander lays that out for you and makes it clear that these assets need $1.47 million per year to maintain the current level of service. If that whets your appetite for more asset information, you can enjoy the Principles of Asset Management video staff have posted.
The number of resources is impressive and offers a deep insight into what goes into the budget process. The videos are produced by external agencies, such as the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, although the posters are mostly home-made.
Bilodeau explained that drafting the municipal budget is one of the largest tasks staff have. It takes about four months of solid work, and involves much consultation between all departments, council, and the public.
She also emphasized that if people have specific questions not addressed by the many posters and videos, they are welcome to contact the office. The Facebook page is also checked periodically, so if you ask a question under a post, it will be answered.
“We’re just trying to raise awareness and make everyone feel comfortable with how we’re budgeting,” Bilodeau said. “The process is open and transparent. There’s nothing hidden.”
For all the budget information you can handle, visit Callander’s website, scroll down to the News and Updates section (on the homepage) and you’ll see the various budget themed postings. Same with the municipality’s Facebook page, just keep scrolling into you hit those budget posts.
David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of BayToday, a publication of Village Media. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.
David Briggs, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca