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Citizen budget provides Powell River finance committee with taxpayer opinion

2020 edition draws 121 responses and 414 comments
Ryan Youngman Powell River
SHARES NUMBERS: Interim manager of accounting services Ryan Youngman outlined results of this year’s citizen budget at a recent City of Powell River finance committee meeting. Paul Galinski photo

This year’s version of Powell River’s citizen budget attracted responses from 121 people, who left 414 comments.

Interim manager of accounting services Ryan Youngman, reporting at the February 27 meeting of City of Powell River’s finance committee, said this is the fourth consecutive year for the citizen budget, which has concluded. He said numbers for responses and comments are comparable to the 2019 figures.

Youngman said one thing done differently this year is staff went to Powell River Recreation Complex for a few hours with iPads to engage residents and promote the survey.

“Although most people were not able to complete the survey due to time commitments, everyone we spoke with was very positive and appreciative of having that opportunity to provide feedback,” said Youngman.

He added that the 121 responses represented only a small segment of the population, but it was much more feedback than the city would have received at regular budget meetings.

“Overall it’s really good information, particularly in the comments section, and I hope this is useful in developing the 2020 to 2024 financial plan,” said Youngman.

Finance committee chair George Doubt said he wanted to say thanks for doing this and bringing this report back.

“It’s interesting, and the 121 people who have chosen to reply is a significant number,” said Doubt. “I’ve spent some time reading all of the comments and I was impressed by how many comments say ‘I want you to cut this back to nothing’ and the next comment says ‘we want more of the same thing.’ There’s quite a range of comments; some more informed than others and others less informed.

“It gives an idea of what the people in the community are thinking and I appreciate the work you’ve done in bringing that here.”

Mayor Dave Formosa said it was a great job and he enjoyed reading all of the comments.

“Having 121 respondents is better than having eight people show up to the finance committee,” said Formosa. “The number of comments was enormous and I got a lot out of those comments.”

The finance committee gave unanimous consent to accept the report.

In filling out the citizen budget, participants were asked to balance the budget in a number of areas of city operation, including: transit, fire, police, roads and transportation, recreation, parks, bylaw, planning, cultural, solid waste and economic development. Noteworthy in the results was 49 per cent of the respondents wanted to see an increase in spending on roads and transportation.

In terms of the tax rate, 27 per cent wanted a decrease, 45 per cent wanted it maintained and 28 per cent wanted a tax rate increase.