Saint John plans local budget meetings
First meeting slated for Sept. 12
Posted: Aug 21, 2012 9:01 AM AT
Last Updated: Aug 21, 2012 12:01 PM AT
Saint John council is planning to hold a series of public meetings in September to help determine spending priorities for the upcoming budget.
The public meetings will be held in different wards across the city and it will give citizens a chance to talk about issues ranging from Saint John's pension crisis to the cuts it may force on city services.
Saint John Mayor Mel Norton said on Monday night he understands the difficult decisions the city must make in its next budget.
"We all know that there are many more wants than there is capacity to provide for those wants,” he said.Saint John Mayor Mel Norton announced a series of public meetings to discuss the city's upcoming budget. (CBC)
Norton, however, warned that even while a pension reform task force is at work trying to minimize the damage caused by the city's pension crisis, it will still likely cost Saint John a lot of money.
"Part of it is really ensuring that the public understands what they may have to give up in this fiscal situation we're in.” he said.
Saint John council has asked a provincial task force to help the city craft a plan to resolve the pension problem.
Saint John’s pension deficit is estimated to be $193 million. Council asked the legislative assembly to repeal its pension act earlier this year, a move that will give the city more flexibility in finding a fix to its pension crisis.
The pension task force could recommend Saint John adopt several pension reforms, similar to those announced by Premier David Alward in the spring.
The task force is expected to report back to Saint John council in the fall.
Norton said on Monday the task force is making some headway on its report.
“It's on schedule, as far as we know, for the end of September, the beginning of October to come back with a report and recommendation to council,” he said.
‘Stop wasting money’
While the task force is continuing its work, the series of ward meetings is tentatively scheduled to begin on Sept. 12.
The first meeting will be held on the city’s west side in Ward 1.
Coun. Bill Farren represents that ward and he said he can predict what the politicians are going to hear when they arrive in the area.
Farren said he knocked on a lot of doors during the recent election and heard the same message repeatedly.
"Stop wasting money. Get your pension plan fixed. Fix those damn roads,” he said.
Farren said he expects the final pension deficit, owed by taxpayers, will still be huge despite the task force’s efforts.
The city announced a series of cuts to staffing positions and services in 2012 to address its worsening financial situation.
Latest New Brunswick News Headlines
- Moncton must address École Champlain's location
- Parents at a Moncton elementary school are continuing to be concerned that odours from nearby industrial companies are a possible health hazard for their children and are calling on the city to fix the situation. more »
- P3 is the only option for Saint John water deal, MP says
- Saint John councillors have no choice but to push forward with a public-private partnership on the new water system, according to Conservative MP Rodney Weston. more »
- Moncton cyclists raise concerns over parking trial
- Concerns over bicycle safety in downtown Moncton could spell the end of on-street parking pilot project for Queen Street. more »
- Coroner’s inquest starts into Chinese student’s death
- Jury selection will get underway on Tuesday at the coroner's inquest into the death of a 17-year-old Chinese student who died in hospital after nearly drowning at the Canada Games Aquatic Centre in Saint John in 2011. more »
Top News Headlines
- Oklahoma tornado recovery work begins after deadly storm
- Recovery efforts are underway after a tornado flattened two elementary schools and many homes south of Oklahoma City, leaving 24 people dead, including seven children. U.S. President Barack Obama responds by promising federal aid and other help. more »
- 'Very upset' Harper wants fast Senate spending reform
- Prime Minister Stephen Harper told the Conservative caucus this morning that he's "upset" about the recent conduct of some senators and his own office, and he wants Senate spending rules tightened quickly. more »
- Children driven around too much, Canadian report suggests
- Fewer Canadian kids are commuting by walking or biking as a new report reveals a marked decline among young people using active modes of transportation. more »
- Keith Boag: Have you heard about the murderous abortion doctor?
- The gruesome trial and murder conviction of Philadelphia abortion provider Dr. Kermit Gosnell is unlikely to change American abortion law, Keith Boag writes. But it has U.S. journalists questioning their priorities and how they cover such a sensitive issue. more »
- Schoolchildren describe Oklahoma tornado terror
- Schoolchildren and their teachers got a sudden lesson in survival after Monday's deadly tornado levelled two schools in Oklahoma City and nearby Moore, Okla. more »
- N.B. community mourns lobster fishermen's deaths
- Human rights complaint filed on behalf of Ashley Smith
- Poisonous algae germinating N.B. lakes, say researchers
- Police find bodies of 2 missing New Brunswick fishermen
- RCMP ‘relieved’ to see charges in Baby Taylor case
- Woman charged with hiding newborn's body
- Dennis Oland named as prime suspect in father's slaying
- Canadian on EI shut out amid foreign worker influx
- Rescue attempt over for New Brunswick fishermen