Over-inflation salary increases, high costs associated with developing the Black Farm property and performance benchmarking are a few of the concerns the Brandon Chamber of Commerce will bring forward as the city launches into the 2013 budget process.
Chamber president Nate Andrews said after last year’s budget proceedings, which included much controversy and discontent, he’s hoping this year will go more smoothly.
“I don’t think the process obviously was done very well last year,” he said. “I think they’ve learned from that and … are off to a better start.”
A public roundtable consultation was held last week to get feedback on the budget well before deliberations begin. More than 30 residents attended, along with city councillors and city administration. Last year, council adjusted the budget following what many have referred to as a tax revolt.
Andrews encourages both members of the business community and the public at large to attend the budget proceedings.
“Any opportunity for public to have their input I think is a good thing,” he said. “Not only businesses when they’re directly affected by the price that they pay, but the consumers are the people that come and spend the money at the businesses … When their discretionary income is eaten into with these things, it does basically leave them less money to spend at businesses too.”
A large portion of the 2012 budget came down to increasing salaries and Andrews said it appears there may be more salary issues to deal with this year.
“That can just keep spiralling out of control,” he said. “That’s a large portion of their budget and we just feel that anything being asked higher than consumer price index, we need an explanation.”
Andrews hopes the operating budget won’t be just the status quo.
“Sometimes status quo has questions to it. Should you even start there, or should you start from the ground up sometimes and look at that more responsibly,” he said.
The North Brandon Gateway area, once known as the Black Farm area, is 160 acres of city-owned land on the North Hill between First and 18th streets, south of the Trans-Canada Highway. Developing this land is expected to be a multimillion-dollar project over several decades.
City councillors will present the preliminary budget on Dec. 3, followed by a public consultation at city hall Dec. 12.