The Municipality of Pontiac’s Council held a pre-budgetary public consultation meeting last night, January 6, 2014, at the Community Centre in Luskville to facilitate the discussion between residents and Council in formulating the Municipality’s 2014 budget.
After wishing everyone a Happy New Year and thanking those in attendance, Mayor Roger Larose proceeded to describe the meeting’s format and introduced the special committee formed by Council to oversee the consultation process.
“Tonight we welcome you to our first public pre-budget meeting," Mr. Larose began. "This will give [Council] the opportunity to listen to you and to be better informed of your needs and priorities. During the course of the [coming] years, we will be inviting citizens in each ward to meet with us to continue improving this process. We have formed a Financial Administration Committee to be able to control the budget. This committee consists of three Councilors: Brian Middlemiss as the President [along with] Nancy Draper-Maxsom and Denis Dubé as members. They will be working with the head of the Finance Department, Ginette Chevrier Bottrill.”
Mayor Larose then turned the meeting over to the Committee and Brian Middlemiss along with committee members, councilors Nancy Draper-Maxsom and Denis Dubé, who then formed two working groups made up of rate-payers in attendance at the meeting to create a forum for citizens to express their priorities and concerns.
Each group was tasked with formulating a list of the priorities they felt represented their concerns and wishes, which both groups presented afterwards to Council and the general assembly for discussion.
The working groups were very constructive; each group, presided over by councilors Draper-Maxsom and Dubé, gave residents an opportunity to interact and discuss with members of Pontiac’s municipal council in a cordial atmosphere in which to raise their issues of concern. Both junior Councilors demonstrated that they were informed and serious about the task of formulating Pontiac’s municipal budget for the coming year, and presided over their respective groups with a high level of decorum. Both groups profited greatly from insights by veteran members of Council Inès Pontiroli, Dr. Jean Amyotte and Tom Howard.
The priorities expressed by both discussion groups related a desire for greater communication between the public and Council with improved dissemination to residents of Council activities, as well as adequate notice of upcoming changes and consultations.
Participants also relayed the need for a more cohesive vision for development in the Municipality and a requirement to address existing issues in order to be properly able to proceed with the creation of a “Global Vision” for Pontiac’s future.
Members of the public also wanted to ensure that in moving forward, the needs of new and existing residents would be balanced to protect all home owners from an excessive inflation of taxes and changes to the character of the Municipality of Pontiac brought about by new development.
Infrastructure also rated high on the list of priorities, with improvements to existing facilities and roads being cited as a high priority for Pontiac by residents. A need for additional parks and community centers as well as a desire for an arena were also brought forward as ways to improve life and address the inadequacies of available services in the Municipality.
The desire for improved transparency was also among the priorities stated in both working groups. Another concern expressed were services for seniors with aid to assist them in continuing to live in their own homes.
As well, a renewed emphasis on the importance of recycling and the management of green spaces ranked highly among participants.
Some in attendance inquired why for this meeting more detailed information was not made available. Councilor Dubé explained that the Council must first pass a budget before details can be made available to the public, but assured rate-payers that the current council was committed to working with the public in formulating a budget that reflected their wishes as much as possible. He added that there would be future opportunities for residents to participate in further discussions on the budget.
The outcome was very positive and those in attendance left the meeting with a sense of optimism generated by the openness of the process which Council is developing with the help of citizens to enhance the dialogue between residents and the Municipality to aid Council to better respond to the needs of, and gain direction from, the community.
The budget will be voted on at the next regularly scheduled council meeting on January 14th, 2014, at the Community Centre in Luskville, located at 2024 Hwy 148 at
CORRECTION: The Budget presentation will be at 7pm and not 7:30pm as indicated above. After adoption at 8pm, there will be a regular Council meeting that will follow.