North Bay City council is taking the innovative step of inviting citizens and concerned groups to a meeting for negotiations in advance of its next operating budget process.
Traditionally, the budget has been something that was presented, tweaked somewhat and then passed shortly thereafter, however, this time council has taken the initiative of inviting anyone with a desire to input their point of view prior to the budget being drawn up.
The different approach, while perhaps being somewhat more work, should ensure greater flexibility and feedback within the community and the concerns they have for the future.
Citing examples such as the major employment loss at the ONTC as a situation that might require special consideration within the budget, businesses that are trying to stay afloat in a tough economy, will no doubt be looking to the city to help shoulder the high cost of taxes in these rough times.
Deputy Mayor Sean Lawlor is heading up the event and hopes to gather insight and information from the public on how to maintain and enhance the level of service for citizens and the levies that will best support the local business community.
“Without that public input, it's essentially eleven people sitting around a table, making decisions on what they think the public wants,” says Lawlor.
“In this way, we're allowed to hear straight from the horse's mouth, in some instances and get that feedback that we need to be able to move forward in the city's best interests," he says.
The budget meeting is scheduled for September 24th.