“Public engagement is a key component of the annual budget process.”
So reads the high-flying introduction paragraph on a 2015 council document distributed last night at a public-input budget meeting staged by Kitchener Council.
At the end of the meeting I complimented members of the public who came out and braved such a vicious snow-buried evening. I did not, as carelessly stated in Tuesday’s Waterloo Region Record, express “dismay” at the number of people who attended the session.
What I did say was that more residents might have attended the meeting if we had done a better job providing timely and comprehensive budget information.
As a council, we will be receiving more than a dozen factual issue papers on Feb. 17 about a variety of interesting municipal subjects. Unfortunately, taxpayers had no access to that material before Monday’s public-input meeting.
The issue papers provide additional facts and financial details about subjects including the Centre in the Square, Kitchener Library, local golf courses, community centres, Kitchener Market, an incentive program to encourage affordable housing, home-tech’ expenses for councillors, district parks and leisure-subsidy passes for low-income families.
At last night’s meeting, I said I hope, next year, the public will have full access to those issue papers before a public meeting where residents are supposed to express informed opinions.
They can’t do that when they don’t have essential information.