City budget meeting was missed opportunity

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Summerside city council and city management have been roundly criticized for not being open with the public and forthcoming with information.

Outspoken critics have used blogs, the Journal Pioneer website comment space, Twitter, Facebook and other forms of social media to make their opinions, whether informed or uninformed, public.

On Monday, the city held a town hall style public meeting on the 2014 municipal budget.

It was a first in the history of the city. The aim of the meeting was to explain the city's financial situation, where it gets its money and how it spends it.

It was also an opportunity for the public to take part in mini-group discussions on selected issues and finally ask questions of city management about spending.

Many at the meeting said the city needs to increase its tax base through economic development and bring more people into the community to buy homes and pay taxes. Otherwise, the only means the city has of increasing revenue is to increase property taxes.

Credit Union Place came under discussion as a drain on the city coffers.

One of the groups raised the issue of charging user fees for those outside the city boundaries who frequent Credit Union Place.

Another group wanted more focus on the amalgamated areas of the city to ensure these residents catch up with the infrastructure already in place in the former Town of Summerside. Items such as sidewalks and ditch infilling were two of the issues raised.

Everything was open for discussion.

Finance director Rob Philpot gave a forthright and easily understandable presentation on the city budget. The city's debt of $68 million was raised and the reasons behind it.

City council and city management were well represented at the meeting. There were members of the Greater Summerside Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Summerside Inc. and some local developers.

But nowhere to be found were the loudest critics of the city - the social media gang.

This was an opportunity for each and every taxpayer in the city to come out, learn about the budget process and more importantly ask questions directly to the people involved.

It was a chance to get first hand information and it was an opportunity to question this information directly with those involved in the budget process but they decided not to show up.

It's one thing to be critical but along with the right to criticize is the responsibility to become involved - take a stake in your community and work to make it better.

For those who didn't show up on Monday, it was a missed opportunity.

Organizations: Journal Pioneer, Union Place, Greater Summerside Chamber of Commerce Downtown Summerside

Geographic location: Summerside

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  • Roger Gallant
    December 05, 2013 - 10:49

    What is the point of showing up. We could give all the views and ideas , but they do whatever they want. City council does not listen to the people of Summerside. If they did, they would not have lost 1.3 million dollars, and if they would lower taxes, and electric rates, but that is too much to ask, or for them to do.