Budget Meeting Questions Answered

Robert Thomas

Thursday night's special budget meeting discussions have raised some eyebrows within the community.

At that meeting, Budget Committee discussed and finalized the 2018-2019 budget.
The budget will feature the following, according to a City of Moose Jaw news release:

" At a special Budget Committee meeting, Council approved the following motion:

THAT the Waterworks Utility Rate Schedule be amended to reflect a 9% rate increase effective May 1, 2018; and

THAT the Sanitary Sewer Utility Rate Schedule be amended to reflect a 6% rate increase effective May 1, 2018; and further

THAT the remaining utility revenue shortfall of $513,000 be made up by a 1.91% municipal tax increase.

With the adopted motion, the 2018 municipal tax increase for the City of Moose Jaw will be 6.4%.

The adopted motion will go before Council for ratification at their next regular meeting, scheduled for March 12, 2018, 5:30 p.m. in Council Chambers."

To further assist our readers in understanding how and why the special budget meeting could be held in private, here are the relevant pieces of legislation in The Cities Act and The Local Authority Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act

Matters discussed in a private council or council committee meeting are to be kept confidential until they are discussed at a meeting held in public, see subsection 65(e) of The Cities Act.

Councils must respect both privacy and the access rights of citizens.
  In doing so, council discussions held during in-camera sessions may or may not result in resolutions or actions being brought forward in subsequent public council meetings.  All decisions of council must be made by bylaw or resolution at a duly constituted public meeting of the council.

Subsection 94(2) of The Cities Act provides authority for Councils and council committees to close all or part of their meetings to the public if the matter to be discussed is within one of the exemptions in Part III of The Local Authority Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (LA FOIPP).

Part III Section 16 of LA FOIPP includes advice, proposals, recommendations, analyses or policy options developed by or for the local authority as well as information including proposed plans, policies or projects which could result in disclosure of a pending policy or budgetary decision, among others.

It should be noted that MJ Independent did not ask any questions upon the release of the Budget Committee's discussions for two reasons.

First, given the applicable legislation surrounding private meetings, we did not want to encourage any Council member to break the law.

And secondly, since it was a Friday, tracking down appropriate department heads and Council members would be difficult and we felt it was in the City's best interest to focus on clearing roads in the wake of Snowmageddon 2018.

But we did find the following interview Mayor Tolmie did with CTV Regina which might prove helpful.


Links To Legislation

Cities Act: http://www.publications.gov.sk.ca/freelaw/documents/english/Statutes/Statutes/c11-1.pdf

LA FOIPP: http://www.publications.gov.sk.ca/freelaw/documents/English/Statutes/Statutes/L27-1.pdf




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