City sets dates for annual budget deliberations
The proposed 2021 Corporate Business Plan and draft 2021-2025 Financial Plan are now publicly available in advance of the upcoming budget talks with Council, scheduled for November 24 through November 26.
“The unprecedented challenges caused by COVID-19 required a comprehensive process to arrive at the recommended 2021-2025 Financial Plan”, stated Penticton’s General Manager of Finance & Administration, Jim Bauer. “This year’s budget process involved a thorough review of spending, identifying additional non-taxation revenue and proposes a moderate tax increase of 2.25 per cent while temporarily drawing from reserves to help balance next year’s budget.”
Recognizing the City’s low debt levels and access to low interest rates, the 2021-2025 Financial Plan also recommends addressing the City’s growing infrastructure needs through debt financing.
“Of the four budgets this Council is responsible for approving over the course of our term, next year’s budget could be by far the most critical given the decisions we’ll need to consider, both in terms of the known short-term consequences of COVID-19, as well as the unknown long-term impacts”, said Penticton Mayor, John Vassilaki. “With our annual budget engagement process set to kick off, I encourage residents to participate and provide input through the sessions staff have organized.”
A range of COVID-19 compliant engagement opportunities are ready to greet residents as the City prepares to receive feedback on the 2021-2025 Financial Plan.
“Despite the challenges of COVID-19, the City has prepared a thorough public engagement program that provides a range of safe options for anyone interested in contributing feedback on next year’s budget”, said the City’s Public Engagement Program Manager, JoAnne Kleb. “Whether you’re curious to see what spending is planned or you have questions on specific projects, we encourage people to look at the engagement opportunities we’ve scheduled and choose an option that works best for you.”
Early birds can get a head start on reviewing next year’s budget by downloading both the 2021-2025 Financial Plan and Corporate Business Plan documents off the City’s website or picking up a limited number of hard copies at City Hall and the Library. The official window to share feedback opens November 9 with residents able to access additional information via the City’s community engagement website shapeyourcitypenticton.ca or at kiosks at City Hall and the Library. Those wishing to share comments can complete the available online or hardcopy feedback form November 9 through November 22.
A presentation of the budget will also be livestreamed through the City’s Facebook account on November 16 from 4 to 5 pm for anyone interested in learning more and asking questions.
Finally, the City has organized a single in-person engagement event, scheduled for November 18 from 4pm to 7pm at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre. Advanced registration is necessary and participants will receive a specific time-slot outlining when they can attend. Interested citizens are asked to phone (250) 490-2464 to register for one of six half hour timeslots. Safe social distancing and mandatory mask wearing are required at all times for this event.