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A $140-million dollar question
David Murphy
OurHometown.ca

A $140-million dollar question
Coun. David Murphy says all council members will have a chance to ask questions about the 2011 city budget before it is approved.
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Cornwall - Apr. 3, 2011 - How to come to a budget? It would seem that’s the question du jour.

With the city budget process nearly complete, administration and the Budget Steering Committee (BSC) will bring their version of the 2011 budget to council as a whole later this week for final approval. There are concerns over the process.

Fellow OurHometown.ca columnist and longtime former city councillor Chris Savard believes all members of council should have a say in it from start to finish.

While we don’t have the opportunity to vote during BSC meetings, we could voice concerns or ask questions during those meetings, and for the most part, we did. We will have that opportunity once again when the budget is presented to council for final approval. I suspect even some of the BSC members will ask more questions and “dig a little deeper” during that meeting even though we’ll be voting on their document.

I’ve been fortunate to discuss several budget issues with various city managers throughout the process as all councillors were privy to the documents presented. Rest assured - fellow councillors not on the BSC have done the same.

Having been on the other side of the table as a reporter when budget sessions were all inclusive and took several full weekends to break down and decide, we’re about to pass a budget in early April rather than late May or even June, as reportedly was done in the past. Would I object to taking a month's worth of weekends to set the budget? No. Does this process have merit? Yes. My objective was to go through this year’s process and judge from its success or failure to see if we should revert to past methods or stay the course with the BSC or give the process a chance. I don’t feel like I was “left out” of the process.

I can understand Mr. Savard’s concerns and as a former multi-term member of council, his opinions on such matters deserve attention and delving into.

Mr. Savard and I see eye to eye on a lot of things and we also disagree every once in awhile, but we always patch things up by thorough debate and coming to mutual ground on a litany of issues.

This conversation is to be continued once this year’s budget is passed. And by the way, your thoughts and comments on a document that has a 1.31 percent increase (or $24 for the average home owner) is more than welcome to dmurphy@cornwall.ca.


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