Council to receive line-by-line budget documents next year

From back to front, councillors Terra Lennox-Zepp, Don Cody, Blake Edwards and Ted Zurakowski listen to a speaker during Thursday’s budget deliberations at City Hall. -- Jason Kerr/Daily Herald.

Prince Albert’s city council will be receiving even more information come budget time.

A motion was passed Monday to receive a line-by-line account of the city’s spending. Currently, councillors are asked to build a budget by comparing differences from year to year.

Ward 3 Coun. Tony Head, who made the motion Monday, said the new approach should help bring more accountability to city hall.

“It allows us to understand a little bit more what we’re spending our money on,” Head said when reached by phone Thursday.

“Having administration put together that budget provides more transparency and accountability for us as councillors and for them as administration as well.”

The document presented to councillors already includes hundreds of pages, but Head believes the more detailed approach will help to find money in the existing budget and help to clear some of the backlog of unfunded projects.

“The wishlist is quite lengthy and there’s not enough money to go around,” Head said.

“Having a full and complete understanding of what we’re currently spending versus what programs are available and what programs might come up definitely provides for that opportunity.

He said during this year’s budget deliberations, he had a lot of questions.

“Some of the answers I received could have been expanded upon,” he said.

“Asking for that in writing and having the time and due diligence to review that document would be beneficial for all of us, not just as councillors but residents as well, to completely understand what we’re spending our monies on.”

Head’s original motion specifically referenced the budget for maintenance materials and supplies, as well as contracts. He conceded to other councillors that the wording unnecessarily complicated matters, and if councillors could go through line-by-line concerns surrounding contracts, maintenance materials and supplies could be uncovered as well.

“Council sees the value in going through this budget line by line,” he said.

“I’m surprised that hasn’t been provided in years past. Moving forward … I’m interested to see those documents.”

  • With files from Jason Kerr