When it comes to B.C. taxpayers' opinions on how public dollars should be spent, the government says it is listening. Locals will have the chance to have their opinions entered into record when provincial officials host budget consultations in Nanaimo on Wednesday.
The bi-partisan select standing committee on finance - composed of four New Democrat MLAs and five from the governing B.C. Liberals, plus the chair - has invited Nanaimo taxpayers to a consultation session at the Coast Bastion Hotel on Wednesday, from 4:30-8:30 p.m. The consultation sessions will be held in 17 communities throughout the province this year. Several other regions will have the chance to log their input via video conference.
Elected officials on both sides of the legislature say the budget consultation process offers a chance for anyone to share their views on where their tax dollars should be spent.
"There's a chance for every voice to have input," said Penticton MLA Dan Ashton, the committee's chair. "I stress that it's very important for those people that come forward to know they will be listened to."
In addition to local officials, government clerks and Hansard (transcription services) staff are also part of the group currently touring the province and logging the opinions of taxpayers.
Once the information gathering process is complete, the committee will meet to formulate and finalize its report.
The document they produce will be due at the Ministry of Finance by the middle of November, before it is released to the public and the Legislative Assembly for dissemination.
Nanaimo MLA Leonard Krog was a member of the committee in the past and he described the consultations as a "wonderful" opportunity for electors to have input on government finance.
The consultations are a way for the public to educate politicians and help establish spending priorities at the provincial level. "It's a very transparent and open process and I sincerely hope that people will come out and participate," he said.
"I don't think it's necessarily going to move government off their agenda, but it may result in some priority being given to things that otherwise would not have priority."
© Copyright 2013