EDITORIAL: Meeting will gauge apathy

NANAIMO – Residents have even more opportunity to address elected officials and city staff on the budget

From January to April every year, a time slot is set aside at televised city council meetings for residents to address elected officials with concerns over budget matters.

At virtually every meeting, except for a small band of city watchdogs who are consistently tuned in to municipal matters, the offer of discussion goes without any takers.

Nobody has anything to say on proposed tax rate increases, what to do with monetary surpluses, how municipal grants are distributed or city policy on purchasing goods. The list is endless.

The annual city budget is the largest and most important document performed by the city every year. It is full of ways the city spends your money, but every year it slips by without much interest even though the average taxpayer invests $3,000 into the city every July 1.

A summertime survey indicated 90 per cent of residents in Nanaimo are content with how their city is run and how their tax money is spent. A commendable result to be sure, but there is still 10 per cent more room for improvement.

To help achieve that, on March 25 at 7 p.m., Nanaimo residents have even more of an opportunity to address their elected officials and city staff on the budget through the city’s first-ever e-town hall budget meeting.

Residents will be able to ask questions through social media including Facebook, Twitter and a webform page, as well as by phone or by showing up to the meeting and asking in person.

Every councillor and most senior level city staff will be at your disposal to answer questions, suggestions, comments or concerns.

It’s an opportunity that should be taken advantage of, but judging by past apathy, the e-town hall will also provide a good gauge on how disengaged the public is from the efforts that are made on its behalf and with its money.