Are your taxes going up this year? How much more will you be paying for your municipal utilities in 2024? Is your local landfill still going to be open on Sundays?
Do you know - or will you be complaining about “surprise” changes in the new year?
It’s budget discussion time across the Lakekland — and it’s all about money and services; your money and your services.
Municipal officials are in the midst of making changes to just about every line on the books. Elected officials are making decisions on service levels in relation to costs. They are decisions that affect all residents of the region.
Like election time, budget deliberations are an opportunity for residents have a say in what is important to them. Unlike the every-four-year election cycle in municipal politics, however, budget time is an annual opportunity. But like elections, all too often, public engagement in the process is lacking.
Councils have been offering open house sessions, and budget discussions around the council table are held at public meetings. But all too often, the public input is lacking.
Recent budget engagement sessions in Lac La Biche County were attended by more municipal staff ready to provide answers and take notes than members of the public. In a community currently working with tax revenues in excess of 80 million dollars, and equally substantive expenses, it’s unfortunate that more interest isn’t garnered by the people who will be most affected by how these dollars are spent and collected.
While apathy at the polling stations comes with a perceived cost, apathy at budget time comes with a real, figurative cost.
As the budget process continues across the region in council halls, residents are encouraged to surprise their elected leaders by showing up now — instead of being surprised when their tax dollars aren’t doing what they should be doing later.
Check the pages of Lakeland This Week for municipal highlights and details about the ongoing budget process. Municipalities have until December 31 to decide how your tax dollars will be spent next year.