Basic issues like transportation and sidewalks are at the forefront of Cape Bretoners' minds, says Mayor Cecil Clarke as he winds down his month-long budget consultation process this week.

The mayor launched a series of public meetings last month to give residents a chance to voice their concerns over issues that will affect the municipal budget.

It's the first public budget consultation tour.

About 15 people took part in Sunday's presentation in Sydney.

Clarke said so-called "curbside issues" were brought up repeatedly, including, "someone who doesn't have a sidewalk wanting them put in because of wanting active transportation, wanting safety for the citizens, we have an issue with seniors with scooters people wanting more ability to be integrated into their community."

"Public transit has come up on many occasions; our capacity just to provide core service delivery and roads," he added.

Engaging citizens

The final public meetings will take place in Dominion on Tuesday evening and in Glace Bay on Thursday.

Clarke says it's been a big success.

"It’s about engaging our citizens and, more importantly, informing and educating people on how their budget is formulated, what the dollars go towards, what are the challenges and where are our priorities," he said.

Acting CAO Marie Walsh said one of the more notable issues is how the debt is being managed.

"We were at a high in 2009 of $105 million, so we've been working away at that and now at the end of 2013, we'll be down to $93 million," she said.

Clarke said the community meetings will be followed by a two-day stakeholder session in council chambers and budget workshops.