Thursday, January 24, 2008

Budget Season

It's the time of year when a governing body's thoughts turn to budgets. That also means it's the time of year when citizens need to be watching the budget process and participating where they can.

Central Saanich, School District 63 and the provincial government are all about to wow us with numbers. Having spent the last week here at the Canadian Labour Congress Winter School studying budgets I am going to be more than ordinarily interested in this year's offerings.

How big will the provincial allocation be to our Board of Education? Does our Board hold any funds in Board Companies (bodies which Boards have set up to profit from international students)? Will we hear of shortfalls: projected losses which often never materialize, bogeymen meant to rush us into accepting all kinds of unnecessary cuts? On the other hand school boards aren't allowed to run deficits without the permission of the provincial government (deficits are real and refer to expenditures that have already taken place).

Will our municipal budget finally tell all about the Brentwood Revitalization's costs and how much we will have to pay to rebuild our drained reserves? Did you know that last year three of our councillors (Bryson, King and Graham) voted against the budget because of concerns related to the Revitalization? Bravo!

And will our provincial budget demonstrate real action on climate change by setting up an arm's length compensation commission to help businesses when they have to convert or shut down because they are unsustainable? Drive-throughs must go, we must have legislation banning catalogues and junk mail once and for all, most environmental action will have to come through legislation: we can't wait any longer.

It's going to be quite a ride so sharpen your pencil and whip out your note pad.

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