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Town ready to start budget process

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Public input slated Sept. 22

FORT FRANCES—While summer is not done quite yet, the town already is looking ahead to 2009—with council slated to hold its first public meeting Sept. 22 to garner input on next year’s municipal budget.

Council approved a report from treasurer Laurie Witherspoon at Monday night’s regular meeting, which outlined a budget timetable that aims to see the 2009 budget passed by April 13.

“Early preparation and planning are critical components of an effective budget process. The budget timetable provides a logical process and ensures that all information is available when required,” Witherspoon wrote in her report, adding the 2009 budget timetable is based on timelines and experiences of previous years.

“From my standpoint, and I know council will concur with this, the most important date on there, besides the ratification of the budget, is Sept. 22, a couple weeks from now, when we will be receiving public input at the public meeting for the budget process,” noted Fort Frances CAO Mark McCaig.

“Invariably during the year, groups come forward and they have special requests, and I’d like to get it out there that this is the opportunity for not only groups within the town, but individuals, to come forward and have some input into the budget process.

“It shouldn’t be diminished that any citizen has the opportunity to effect some direction and some change within our process, and I encourage people to come forward,” McCaig stressed. “It is isn’t just token lip service; council does listen, and the executive committees take individual requests back to the process and consider them.

“I really encourage everybody to come forward and utilize this as a methodology to get involved in your local government.”

The timetable includes the public meeting on Monday, Sept. 22, after which time the four executive committees will take the information received and review it during the week of Oct. 6-10.

These same committees then will review the various division budgets during the week of Nov. 17-21.

Information then will be handed over to Witherspoon by Nov. 28, who, in turn, will consolidate the data into a draft operational and capital forecast.

This draft, and other budget information, then will be reviewed repeatedly by town administration and the committee of the whole throughout December, January, February, and early March before being brought up for ratification by council on March 9.

Over these months, the committee of the whole will meet every alternate week to regular council meetings to review the budget.

A second public meeting then will be held Monday, March 23, with the budget anticipated to be ready for a final vote April 13.

(Fort Frances Times)

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