Below are their answers to the first question in full (original spelling and all).
Q. How do you propose the City keep its future spending under control?
A. Very simply put, Council needs to ensure that financial sustainability is integrated into all aspects of debate and project/program consideration. Successful corporations create this as a philosophy that is more than just words in their Mission Statement. It must be a part of their culture. As with any other corporation, the return on the investment must favourable. What must be remembered is that “return on investment” on local government programs/projects is not always financial; most often they enhance the community to create a community for the local business owners to recruit to.
A. Council is closely involved in setting up the annual City budget. A great deal of time and energy is spent meeting with community groups and all City departments (including fire and police) to carefully go over every area of expenditure (especially staffing) and revenues. These expenditures and revenues are tracked on a monthly basis in a public report to Council.
Taxes, the main source of City revenue, are substantial and we have had a number of new projects such as the Pomeroy Sports Centre and the Kids Arena Field House. It is time to hold the line.
Any new projects need to be funded by sponsorships and partnerships with community groups and businesses in order to keep future spending and taxes under control.
Promoting the City and bringing new workers and businesses to town will also increase tax revenues.
A. I would conduct a complete operational review and audit to make sure we are getting value for the money we already spend. I would also promote the idea?of a financial advisory committee made up of professionals who once or twice a year would meet with us and provide an?unbiased external view of our methods and?performance. People in our city are busy working, they don't have time to monitor City Hall, every once in a while we need somebody from the outside taking a look at what we are doing. That has to be more than just checking our accounting practises.
A. We must establish a clear and comprehensive Community Plan, outlining the vision, long-term goals, and priorities for the future… and then stick to it. This will facilitate more efficient and effective spending within our means, along with a pro-active approach to development and provision of services. It will reduce costs as we minimize the reactive upgrades and re-construction due to unanticipated demands due to growth or change. Spending policies must reflect our priorities and decisions should be guided by those policies. City leadership is constantly presented with exciting ideas and opportunities that simply may not be feasible. Council needs to demonstrate discipline in weighing existing projects, commitments, and operating expenses to ensure that they align with the income received. We must resist the temptation to borrow against tomorrow, reduce unnecessary spending, and look for other sources of income through partnerships, grants, provincial and federal programs, etc.
A. To keep the path it’s on. The City has many challenges facing it and they have planned for these. Each issues is looked at to it’s need, want or wish. They only have so much money and needs are considered first but they have also met many wants and the occasional wish. All this with a balanced budget.
A. Fort St. John will be a community that is prepared for the future, with a united Council, bringing forth a clear vision and a plan for community development, security and promotion.
Our Council will be proactive in its approach of showcasing Fort St. John as the centrepiece of British Columbia’s Northeast, with businesses, commercial and industrial, establishing themselves, knowing that our City is in good hands; fiscally responsible, maintaining appropriate taxation levels and communicating openly that we are prepared for progress and continued opportunities.
We need to be moving our community forward while at the same time ensuring that we’re growing responsibly and sustainably. Our Council will need make the best decisions possible knowing that fiscal responsibility is of great importance to all residents and taxpayers of our community.
A. By using good fiscal management. By continuing to promote and use good business plans to analyze whether we "need" or "want" whatever we are dealing with at the time.
A. By listening to what it is the residence need VS want. The current council has done a great job of keeping maximum services intact and accountable fiscal responsibility in check for the past three years.
A. No response was returned for this question.
A. I believe that with responsible leadership and a commitment by the city council to the community to be transparent financially is very important to controlling spending while investing wisely.
A. By eliminating all unnecessary expenditures. For example sell properties that are revenue generating, rather than give them away. Limit beautification project to volunteer organizations and fundraisers; Attract large box stores within City boundaries to help increase tax base for starters. City donations and gifts in kind for non profits should be limited to last resort only after all other fundraising efforts have been exhausted. Implement Cause and effect spending, plow first THEN sand, not the other way around. Utilize community service hours people to maintain parks, clean streets, pick up garbage and shovel sidewalks for shut ins and seniors. Limit unnecessary spending and expense accounts. Reduce overtime spending for employees.
A. Public Consultation with the community is an important aspect of our spending. We will continue to maintain a balance between user fees and taxation. The city is in a good financial position and we need to stay there. Under the local government act, municipalities can not run a deficit, therefore, every budget is a balanced one! We have low debt and a very competent finance department! We need to ensure that we have a plan in place to pay for our infrastructure needs into the future.
A. The city needs to set financial goals, both for the long term, and the short term. We need to make sure that what we are spending on is a priority, not just a want. As your future city council member, I will be frugal with the budget in order to prepare ourselves in the event of provincial grants disappearing. It is my opinion that paying off the cities debt is a goal that can be achieved in a prudent and efficient manner; this would benefit us as it would reduce the stress on the city in the case of a financial emergency on any level of government that could affect us. The city needs to be able to spend its money freely, yet wisely, and it is my belief that this challenge is one that I will be capable of meeting.
A. For the next three years of office my plan would be to disclose to the community the projects already tabled by previous council and acquiring the public’s input on what priorities they want to see. This would allow council to align spending with the citizens’ priorities and research solutions. We are a city in transition right now, making a quick jump from a small town to a moderate sized city, and many people I have talked to have said that although they do appreciate some of the amenities we have gained in the last while our basic infrastructure is sorely lacking. I also feel we need to enact a future growth plan for the city that looks not at our immediate future, but a decade or further. This plan would outline future industrial development, residential development, transit needs (including transit between our neighbouring communities such as Charlie Lake and Taylor, that use our services), and energy needs (as well as the conservation of energy). This would be a plan for future councils to follow and build upon.
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