Budget report buried

Buried in the back pages on the June 3 Advertiser is a belated report on a May 20 Wolfville budget meeting .

In a surprising move, Wolfville Mayor Bob Stead ruled budget discussion May 20 would be limited to the council table.

Several members of the public – two dozen people were in attendance – immediately got up and left. The town has had two public budget input sessions this spring. [This number of meetings is normal but it is not normal to cut off discussionl

This “surprising” move was so that councillors could “answer” to criticism without fear of a countering response. We can understand why some wouldn’t bother to stay to hear them. We’ve heard them before. What were those “answers”. They deserve to be examined – we also have a counter.

Councillor David Mangle said he was concerned the town’s “debt free in 2023” program might have to wait until 2053.

What is cut is in the control of council. There was lots of room for cuts without touching priorities. All council had to say was take this back – we don’t want to contemplate cuts here.

Councillor Bill Zimmerman said he was saddened at the loss of planning capability: a full-time planner position was cut.

What is cut is in the control of council. There was lots of room for cuts without touching priorities. All council had to say was take this back – we don’t want to contemplate cuts here.

Councillor Rosemary Segado read a statement indicating there could be bad years ahead with the long term debt plan derailed.

What is cut is in the control of council. There was lots of room for cuts without touching priorities. All council had to say was take this back – we don’t want to contemplate cuts here.

Stead also spoke about the length of the process, and decried the fact grants to the community will be reduced, including funding for Deep Roots, Willpower Theatre and performing arts at Acadia University.

What is cut is in the control of council. There was lots of room for cuts without touching priorities. All council had to say was take this back – we don’t want to contemplate cuts here.Are we repeating ourselves? That leaves Mackay and Simpson who differed in a mild way.

Councillor John MacKay agreed the process was reactive rather than proactive.

“I am not happy with the process.” [translation-perhaps we should been more careful about our priorities and been more frugal from the beginning]

While Clock Park plans scaled back significantly, MacKay said the town is still going to get the park it wants. He added he has come [sic] concern about the grade of the site.

MacKay also called for more financial updates throughout year. He said recent public meetings forced the town to look at every dollar in its budget, but he might have opted for different priorities – such as less spending on Canada Day, when “you might have 50 or 60 turn up.” [translation- perhaps we should have known people would be so upset about spending so much of their money unwisely and been more careful about over spending earlier]

Councillor Hugh Simpson, who had said he was not re-offering after two terms, is now rethinking that decision. He expressed thanks to those who took part in the budget process, saying the contribution was significant. [translation. He is happy to see people involved finally and he sees maybe now he will get some support for more balanced views.]

Then there was the deputy mayor who hedged:

Deputy Mayor Bob Wrye told fellow councillors they were stuck between a rock and a hard place in advance of budget approval.

“I’m not particularly pleased with the whole process. We only got an outline, with no figures, until the first draft of the budget. Then we had to go back to the drawing board.”

Regarding that comment by Wrye we have to say that Segado hit the nail on the head when she said…

“I think we have simply produced an election budget.”

We want to comment on what Bill Zimmerman said , if quoted correctly.

He suggested council had only heard from one segment of the population on budget priorities: those who are not happy.

We didn’t hear anything said about one segment being missing in previous years when they had a huge budget and very few [only those who cared] showed up, or when other decisions were made, when a small number [only those who cared] came out for smoking bylaws, or pesticide by-laws, or land given to the nature trust or fair trade rulings. Now when people who care come out about their zoning being changed or a huge tax increase, why is this all of a sudden an issue? And could it be that people have finally just HAD ENOUGH? Self examine Bill, that is all we ask.

And when all was said and done, given what is reported they said, why did they vote for this budget then? If they didn’t agree they shouldn’t have voted for it. No good to just vote for it “under protest”. It seems only Segado was true to her opinion and voted against the rate.

Finally- on the numbers:

* total operating budget: $7,081,967, an increase of 1.68 per cent

• total capital budget: $2,318,881

Why is it the small increase is given for the operating budget (after it was cut back significantly remember, due to the outcry) but no increase is published for the capital budget. Look at reserves. That’s where they hide the money they took from taxpayers in previous years. That is where the “buffer” is so they can continue to dole out their largesse. That’s where the – last minute- $32,000 came from for the school playground. It’s the oldest trick in the book.

Related: Residents should make note of this notice

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