Council decides on budgeting as usual
The Kamloops Voters Society (KVS) went to city council this week looking for more public engagement on the budget, but appeared to leave empty-handed.
KVS president Chris Ortner asked council to consider “participatory budgeting” for next year’s budget, but a motion to get city staff to look into the practice was voted down.
Participatory budgeting is the process in which residents help decide how to allocate part of a municipal budget.
Councillors Denis Walsh and Nancy Bepple voted in favour of having staff look at what other communities are doing with regards to participatory budgeting.
“We don’t improve unless we’re willing to look at different ways of doing things,” Bepple said.
She contends it’s always worthwhile to look at news ways of doing business, but added any decision to change the current budget practice would be left to the next council in the fall.
But after hearing exactly what the KVS was asking for, Mayor Peter Milobar suggested it’s what the city has already been doing.
He said every decision that gets made in the 20-plus civic committees has an impact on the budget.
Ortner argued the way the city now deals with the budget is more like a presentation, rather than a consultation.
He said the city could start small by linking with neighbourhood associations.
Ortner said Kamloops would be the first municipality with less than 100,000 population to adopt the practice in Canada.
The city’s chief administrative officer, Randy Diehl, was asked for his insight into the issue and said the city is constantly bringing back feedback from community groups through the budget process.
He said he doesn’t feel the process is broken, adding he’s proud of the method city staff and council have set up.
“We’re well-engaged,” Diehl said.
The KVS, which formed in April, considers itself a non-partisan group interested in promoting civic engagement and awareness about issues in the city.