A civic committee was told too many councillors have been kept in the dark about the 2014 budget.
Coun. Jenny Gerbasi said members of the executive policy committee have known for months what the proposed 2014 budget would contain, but the rest of council only saw it for the first time on Friday, adding there isn’t enough time to make any changes before the budget will be passed Dec. 17.
"EPC knows what’s going on for months and months and the rest of us find out (Friday)," Gerbasi (Fort Rouge –East Fort Garry) told the property and development committee this morning.
"You’re not forced to do it that way. You have a choice…. That’s the choice of the mayor and those close to him. They could open it up and do a better process and that’s what I’m asking for."
Gerbasi said that when she was first elected to council 15 years ago, councillors and members of the public were given five weeks to review and propose amendments to the operating budget before it was passed, adding that the capital budget was treated the same way.
this year both budgets were released at the same time and councillors and the public are given less than three weeks from their release (Nov. 29) to when they must be passed (Dec. 17).
Councillors not on EPC don’t have enough time to comprehend the budget documents, Gerbasi said, adding that the compressed schedule discourages members of the public from getting involved.
"We need to do better," Gerbasi said. "The public is not engaged in this budget process and I remember when it was a lot better."
Gerbasi said the highly touted public consultations on the budget done in the spring were a failure: Meetings were poorly attended and the survey was totally inadequate and appeared to be designed to support EPC’s emphasis on road repairs.