Prince Albert city council will be back for another day of budget meetings after the proposed general fund budget failed to pass at Monday’s regular council meeting.
Councillors Evert Botha, Charlene Miller, Terra Lennox-Zepp and Dennis Nowoselsky all voted against the general budget, which includes things like road and park maintenance, fleet expenses and fire department services. Because final voting ended in a 4-4 tie, the motion was automatically defeated.
Councillors Blake Edwards, Dennis Ogrodnick and Don Cody all voted in favour of the budget, as did Mayor Greg Dionne. Ward 8 Coun. Ted Zurakowski did not attend Monday’s meeting. A 5-4 vote in favour of the budget is required for it to pass.
Afterwards, Dionne said he was disappointed with the result, but vowed there would be no changes to the budget that was presented at Monday’s meeting.
“It is disappointing strictly because they were present when they did vote and move it forward to today,” Dionne said. “What really shows there colour is that they got up and picked one or two items. We have a $100 million budget, and they don’t vote because of a $60,000 item? Boy, I don’t know why you ran for council. It is frustrating.”
The four dissenting councillors gave a variety of reasons for voting against the budget. Lennox-Zepp criticized the budget for its lack of long-term vision and said city council needs to think beyond the next year or the next election cycle. Nowoselsky argued that too many Prince Albert residents were struggling to make ends meet, and said this budget didn’t give them enough relief. Miller voted against the budget because she disagreed with how roadway money was being allocated. She said the money was being spent on projects it was never intended for. Botha expressed concerns that certain positions, like the Economic Development Officer, were being left vacant. His request for a friendly amendment to fill that position was denied.
“The budget decisions should be focused on the long-term interest of the city, and the cost-savings of the city, and I find this budget to be short-sighted,” Lennox-Zepp said during the meeting.
She cited the failure to approve a motion to install LED lighting at the Kinsmen Arena was a small but poignant example of the city failing to plan for the future.
The city has scheduled another budget meeting for Thursday, Dec. 20 at 4 p.m.
The Daily Herald will have more information and reaction to this story on Tuesday.