WEYBURN – A public open house about the proposed budget for the City of Weyburn was held on Tuesday at the Weyburn Public Library by a private group of citizens, and was not a sanctioned city event.
A total of 30 people attended over the course of the afternoon and evening, including three city councillors. One of the organizers, Sean Abram, explained the purpose of the open house was to provide information and education about the proposed budget for the city.
“The meeting was a success. People came out, spent time and talked about what was in the budget and their concerns. What made the meeting a greater success was that three city councillors did attend later in the day and engaged with the people there; some very good discussions were had with these councillors,” said Abram of the meeting.
At tables set up around the Allie Griffin auditorium, the organizers had information including copies of the full proposed budget, the Council Agenda Package from Nov. 28 (which included the typed summary of the 88 comments as submitted), a copy of the presentation from staff to Council, a copy of the budget summaries from 2018 to 2022, a copy of audited City Financial Statements and a copy of City Public Accounts from 2018 to 2021 – all either downloaded from the City’s website or received directly from City staff. “Sometimes it’s hard to follow if you’re not used to looking at budgets,” said Abram.
He said he had no issues he was pursuing with this open house, and noted they have not injected any opinion into the information, but just wanted to provide the facts of what is in the budget and what the costs are, including the proposed tax increase of 10.34 per cent.
A statement was provided from the City of Weyburn about the open house, and city spokesperson Paige Tenbult added there would be no interviews with members of council or administration on the matter.
“This is not an accredited City event and therefore any information shared is of the opinion of those presenting. The public input portion of the 2023 municipal budget process closed on Nov. 18.
“Weyburn City Council and City administration have carefully considered all input provided during the public engagement process for the 2023 municipal budget. City Council thanks everyone who participated and helped shape the upcoming budget. On Dec. 12, the final proposed budget will appear before City Council at its regular meeting starting at 6 p.m.,” said the statement, adding information about how delegations can bring their points of view to council.
“Delegations are an important part of the municipal process. A delegation is a person or group who would like to speak before Weyburn City Council regarding a presentation, an issue or concern that is important to them or their community. Delegations are welcome to appear before Weyburn City Council during regularly scheduled meetings. The City of Weyburn’s Council Procedures Bylaw details the process for participation in City Council meetings. Information can be found at www.weyburn.ca/delegations,” said the City’s statement.
Summarizing the comments left at the open house, Abram said, “There was very strong consensus that the proposed increase of 10.34 per cent was extremely high given the economic times we are currently in.”
He added that the comments received from attendees included that the information presented was respectful and fair; the budget document is complex and hard to follow; there is a lot of information to digest; it is hard to get a good understanding in the short time available; and it was enlightening and informative.
A list of questions were drawn up from the open house, and Abram noted he will send these on to the mayor and council, and is hoping to make a presentation at the Dec. 12 council meeting.
On Tuesday, he said via email he has made a formal request to city clerk Donette Richter to appear at the Dec. 12 council meeting, and was told he needed to provide her a detailed briefing on what his presentation would be about. If he got this brief in by 6 p.m. on Tuesday, she would then seek permission from the mayor or council to have him put on the agenda.
Abram sent a copy of his emails with City Hall to all of the MLAs as well as to the media.