We had a very good first budget meeting on Monday.
As the formal public input session, this was our community’s opportunity to provide council with ideas and suggestions regarding this year’s budget.
We received one written submission from the South Quesnel Neighbourhood Association.
They are looking for more paving improvements, park development and a better transit stop near Boston Pizza.
We also heard from the Johnston Neighbourhood Association, who are looking for a number of items, including continued repaving, sewer and water infrastructure inspections, more snow removal, and a maintained ice surface at the West Fraser Timber Park.
We also heard from industrial stakeholders, who asked us to create a competitive tax environment, to hold the line on taxes and to continue shifting taxes away from the industry class to other classes.
This was the largest attendance we’ve had for a budget meeting in some time, with close to 20 people in attendance.
Even though we’ve completed the formal public input process, council welcomes public input at any time.
We have several budget meetings coming up, including:
•January 31, 3 p.m. – Preliminary budget session
•February 14, 3 p.m. – Review five-year capital plan
•March 7, 7 p.m. – Capital budget review
We also received a broad overview of the budget and some of the issues we face this year.
Our major concerns are the continued loss of industrial property assessments, the infrastructure deficit and inflationary pressures.
With the closure of the Northstar mill and a pending appeal for Quesnel River Pulp, council will be tasked with finding ways to address that loss of assessment.
You may recall we had to cut close to $1 million last year, which was very difficult.
You can always visit www.city.quesnel.bc.ca/Budget2011 for more information.
We received a report on the results of our recently completed citizen satisfaction survey.
Here are a few of the things we learned from the telephone survey:
•81 per cent rated their quality of life as excellent.
•60 per cent said they receive good value for the taxes they pay, with 72 per cent saying the city is doing a good job.
•78 per cent were either somewhat or very satisfied with the services and programs we provide.
When we asked what people’s top concern was, not surprisingly a poor economy was referred to 30 per cent of the time.
Regarding service levels, 70 per cent of people asked us to maintain or increase service levels by increasing taxes or user fees. About 18 per cent said we should reduce services to maintain current tax rates.
The survey results, including the telephone and online portions, are available on the City’s website.
Congratulations to all the volunteers for putting on this marvelous event.
And thank you to all the participants who help make it a success year after year.
This year’s event starts off with an extra special touch.
Canada Post has unveiled plans for a new commemorative stamp that pays tribute to the pioneering sled dog teams of the past.
The official ceremony was right here in Quesnel, a huge honour for us all to celebrate our heritage.
This event is outstanding; if you have a chance to participate, don’t miss it.
Do you have a question for Mayor Mary Sjostrom? E-mail it to us at HYPERLINK “mailto:email@example.com” firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll forward it to the Mayor so she can answer it in an upcoming column.