by LAURA KEIL, Publisher

I’ve been attending McBride Council’s budget meetings. These are hour-long hash-out sessions between Council and staff on where to allocate money for the coming year. Often these numbers don’t change much year-to-year – we spend a similar amount on public works or office staff that we did the year before.

This year Council has a good problem to solve – roughly $75,000 of unallocated funds. This is the money that would be left over if the Village collected the same tax money as last year. So they have a choice – lower taxes and stick with the basics – or keep taxes consistent and use that money for projects such as infrastructure or capital purchases.

What’s evident from the past two meetings is that Council still has to figure out their priorities for the coming year. What projects should they tackle? How much will those cost? Without answers to these questions, taxpayers will no doubt why Council is not simply dropping the tax roll and collecting less.

Certainly there are many projects Council could spend that money on. I’m sure most residents have a few ideas of their own. But saddled with already-high taxes, residents no doubt lack patience for dilly-dallying on where their precious dollars will go.

Council has been busy settling the dispute with their employees’ union, among other things. But it’s high time they met to discuss priorities for the coming year. Staff cannot and should not decide the outcome of the budget – they are there to advise on hard costs and explain how figures are calculated. It is Mayor and Council’s job to listen to the community, figure out what the community wants and is in their best interests and act on that information to the best of their ability.

I look forward to learning about the projects they come up with for the coming year.