People Based Budget: The Sequel
I read this News Release on the City's website with a title that is so unbelievable that it is almost insulting to taxpayers:
- "Working Together For Our Community’s Future - Our People Based Community Strategic PlanThe City of Windsor is engaging the community through a series of ward workshops to complete our Community Strategic Plan and to assist City Council to shape their priorities for their four-year term of Council. Meetings in each ward will familiarize residents with this People Based City Plan and will present Council’s strategic priority statements. Input collected from workshop participants will help the City refine the Plan prior to its final adoption.
Attendees will be placed in small, facilitated working groups in order to freely share their ideas. Those who wish to attend should register by calling 311. Registrants will receive a pre-work package containing materials to be reviewed in advance of the meeting. To ensure a broad and diverse representation of our population, some personal information will be collected, which is protected under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. "
Gee if only I could get to meet Eddie one-on-one, perhaps my BLOG would be different when I knew the "inside stuff" that mere taxpayers were not allowed to know. Acccording to Gord Henderson, who spent time with Eddie being briefed in camera (heck the City won't reply to me about giving me media accreditation while the Senior Levels have already done so), his opinion was changed by a persuasive Mayor it seems:
- "Here we go with the usual slick facilitator and moronic power point presentation laid on for a handful of the usual suspects in order to collect pie-in-the-sky ideas that won't see the light of day but will enable politicians to boast of consultations with the great unwashed.
That was my mildly jaded initial impression. But after listening to the Monday night council presentation and spending some time with Mayor Eddie Francis for the first time since the November election, I view those ward meetings in a different light.
These aren't feel-good time wasters. These are urgent, last-ditch opportunities for Windsorites to have a direct say -- on issues ranging from the mundane to the visionary -- in how Francis and the Gang of Ten spend our tax dollars in 2007 and over the following three years."
Here is what I have written before on the People-Based Budget:
- People Based Budget--By Phone
"Whatever happened to the People Based Budget process that seemed to work so well last year? Whatever happened to the "web site and an interactive online survey that not only provided citizens with relevant budget information but enabled them to give their opinions and rank their priorities."
Remember what the Mayor said in his State of the City speech:
"And the People-Based Budget will not be a one-year wonder!
It will be back next year, when it will feed into our zero-based budget. Having public input into our zero-based budget process will truly yield more effective – and efficient – city government."
Here is what Councillor Postma said in December 2005:
"What ever happened to People Based budgeting? How are citizens going to learn what the cuts really mean? We did not even advertise our meetings....
I am greatly disappointed that some of my esteemed colleagues have labelled this Council as being at war with spenders vs. savers, good vs. evil, guardians of good vs. guardians of the public purse etc. There are many ways to stretch the truth to make yourself sound better than others, however all actions or mis-actions have an impact, some that you may not notice today but you certainly will in the future. Smoke and mirrors - I truly look forward to educating the public on the budget in an open truly people based process."
Councillor Lewenza gave the justification for killing the process:
"Looking back on the people based budget, I witnessed minimal value in allowing the exercise aside from allowing citizens to express themselves and for allotting city councillors the privilege to mingle with their constituents."
- BUDGET PROCESS
Did you see the story in the Star about the budget meeting. Perhaps we should all attend.
"City council schedules public meeting on budget
City council will hold a public meeting Tuesday to discuss how the 2007 budget process will unfold.
The meeting is open to the public and will be held in council chambers at 5 p.m.
City treasurer Onorio Colucci said the discussion will centre on process rather than numbers."
We should be concerned since Councillor Lewenza has said about next year's budget "there's very little wiggle room in the  budget and taxpayers should not expect to see the frugality of the last two budgets repeated next year. "This is probably the last go- around," he said, adding that there will be either higher tax hikes next year or a reduction in services."
Don't worry, we aren't having a People-based Budget process next year again. We had it once and it won "silver medal at Ottawa's GTEC exhibition of public sector information technology innovation." As Councillor Lewnza said "Looking back on the people based budget, I witnessed minimal value in allowing the exercise aside from allowing citizens to express themselves and for allotting city councillors the privilege to mingle with their constituents."
The whole People Based Budget concept was deemed a total failure effectively and was dropped and now we are doing it all over again. Do these people think we are that stupid? Or do they just have no respect for the electorate!
However, I should tell you that the City is very serious about this. I just applied for the "pre-work package containing materials to be reviewed in advance of the meeting." I was just called by a nice lady at 311 asking if I needed transportation or child-care in order to go.
Perhaps if everyone says "NO," Council can send that money to Brentwood since we have so much money to throw around! Council ought to do something useful with it instead of throwing it away on another farce.