By Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative
Budget season is right around the corner, as municipal staff and council gear up for their first 2021 presentation and budget consultation.
The process will look much different this year due to the COVID-19 public gathering restrictions, as it moves online.
“We don’t have a choice but we’re hoping that we get more public engagement with doing it online,” said Mayor Darrin Canniff. “I know we (in past years) didn’t get a whole lot of people coming out. As far as budgets go, that is not super exciting for people.”
On Wednesday, at 6 p.m. the 2021 budget will officially be presented to the public as the administration and council discuss issues and recommendations. The meeting will be broadcast and live streamed by YourTV.
Public deputations regarding funding will also be heard at the meeting.
The title of the budget this year is Investing for the Future.
“The idea is that we’re making a number of investments for the future,” Canniff said.
Three live Q&A sessions will be held the following week through Facebook Live. After a short presentation, the public will be given the opportunity to make remakes or ask questions in the comment section. The dates are Jan. 19 at noon, Jan. 20 at 4 p.m. and Jan. 21 at 6 p.m.
“I just think with the format and stuff – the average person is geared obviously to online – it’s just easier for people to do, than to say, ‘You know what, let’s load up and go out to the session,’” Canniff said.
Following that, from 6 p.m.-10 p.m. on Jan. 27, 28 and Feb. 2, there will be budget committee meetings held. All sessions will be streamed live on YourTV as well as live streamed on the YourTV YouTube channel and the municipal Facebook page.
Public participation will be scheduled via deputations which must be submitted by 3 p.m. the day before each meeting.
Deputations on specific topics generating significant community interest will be scheduled and announced prior to the Budget Committee’s deliberations.
Residents who are unable to attend any of the sessions, or who do not have quality Internet access, can make comments in three other ways:
By e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org;
By mail to Budget & Performance Services, Municipality of Chatham-Kent, 315 King St. W., P.O. Box 640, Chatham, Ontario, N7M 5K8;
By telephone to Budget & Performance Services at 519-360-1998, ext. 3100.