A 'Love-In' at the Miners Hall -- About Rising Taxes!?

Sara Golling
By Sara Golling
April 15th, 2015

It was amazing.  Over 60 Rosslanders of all ages, from one in diapers to several white-haired elders and many in between, showed up on  Sunday, April 12, 2015 at the Rossland Miners Union Hall — to talk about the 2015 City budget.   All Council members attended.  In previous years, attempts by the City to engage Rosslanders in discussions about the budget have attracted only about 4 to 6 residents.

What made the difference this time?  The City began its citizen-engagement effort early on, with the donated assistance of Rossland’s own Thoughtexchange.  Residents were encouraged to participate in a structured on-line process eliciting their thoughts, and their responses to others’ thoughts.  Over 300 residents had already contributed ideas and responses before this meeting.

Then, with a draft budget prepared, the City asked residents to come to the Miners Hall on April 12  for a public meeting, which was facilitated by  Dave Macleod of Thoughtexchange.  He kept the meeting, and participants, moving;  first, Macleod asked people to write down one thing that is important to them.   Responses ranged from “health” and “my children’s future” to “running water,”  “trails,”  “skiing” and many other good things, all of which could be summed up as “quality of life.”   

Mayor Moore spoke about Council’s work to date, and presented the draft budget.   She spoke of the work already done in gathering citizen input, and she recognized the  value Graham Kenyon contributed to our community over the years; he will be greatly missed.  She said the draft budget is “almost final”, and outlined the planning framework within which Council works:  the Official Community Plan, Strategic Planning, the Council Plan with its goals, objectives, and priorities, and the Management Plan.  She asserted that Council wants to provide Rossland with the best possible service in an affordable and sustainable manner.  (Your editor notes that “best possible service” is always going to be limited by the funds available.)  Moore noted that Council had decided to go with a 2% tax increase for 2015, and  that water and sewer rates will also have to rise to meet the goal of being self-funding (user-pay) services.  She said that Council is keeping capital projects to a minimum in 2015, in order to “save up” for the big Washington Street infrastructure replacement project slated for 2016.  She said that the City is looking for an interim CAO.   She promised a detailed presentation of the budget on April 27.  These reported comments are not Moore’s entire presentation — you had to be there for that! 

Macleod asked people for thoughts arising from Moore’s talk and the budget — in repeated iterations — and the gathering rated responses, and shared them.  Macleod cautioned the gathering that the lowest-rated responses may not prove to be the least important.   All the answers are being kept and will be considered by Council.

Attendees seemed happy and enthusiastic about the quality of the meeting, and many people expressed thanks to Council, to Thoughtexhange, and to all the other residents who took time to attend.  One  council member commented that the meeting was “almost too much of a love-in — we need to hear from the discontented citizens too!”   Several people expressed their hope that the next such meeting would be even larger and more inclusive of Rossland’s diversity.

As the session ended, people gathered around the goodies table to take home some dessert, and help RSS Grade 8 drama students raise funds for a field trip to Vancouver.

Categories: Politics

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