Council Budget Committee to replace Finance Advisory Board
By: Christina Waldner
| Posted: Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 10:03 am
City of Airdrie budget deliberations will soon have a new look after council approved a proposal from staff to replace the existing Finance Advisory Committee (FAC) with a Council Budget Committee at their regular meeting on July 7.
Lucy Wiwcharuk, director of Corporate Services, proposed the establishment of the new committee that would include all members of council and meet to deliberate the annual operating and capital budgets. This would allow council to fully participate in budget discussions. Wiwcharuk’s staff recommended the change to improve the efficiency of the budgeting process. Members of the public would not be invited to be members of this committee.
The FAC currently meets and makes recommendations to council in November. It is comprised of three aldermen and four members of the general public.
“This is an opportune time to make this change,” said Wiwcharuk. “A committee like this is fitting for a city of this size. The budget is the City’s most important planning document.”
Because the Council Budget Committee will include all members of council, they will receive all information and be included in all discussions. According to Wiwcharuk, deliberations at the council level will be shorter because all of council has been in on the discussions from the outset.
Meetings of the new committee will remain open to the public.
Alderman Ron Chapman was in favour of replacing the FAC, saying it was formed when Airdrie was a small city and things have changed.
However, Darren Lockhart, one of the citizen members of the FAC, said he believes retaining public input in the budget is important.
“Public representation shows some oversight of the public’s money,” said Lockert.
Mayor Peter Brown said he felt changing the committee at this point in the fiscal year could be problematic. He proposed inviting two current citizen members of the FAC with a financial background to sit on the new committee along with all of council. The inclusion of public members could be reevaluated in the fall.
After some debate, Alderman Candice Kolsen made a motion in council to support staff’s proposal that a Council Budget Committee be established, while the FAC continue for now until its remaining responsibilities can be completed and its mandate changed.
The motion passed with Brown as the lone dissenting vote.