The city’s 2017 budget is making headlines or the lack there of.
As the mayor’s race heats up, some candidates are now calling on the civic administration to release the city’s preliminary budget in advance of the upcoming election.
Mayoral candidate Kelley Moore was the first to sounded the alarm on Sunday. In a new release, she called the decision to not release the document “a roadblock to informed voting” and that city hall secrecy must come to an end.
On Monday afternoon, she addressed the media in person to echo concerns and frustrations she says residents have with the budget not being released.
“We need to be asking ourselves what are the priorities and in order for citizens to make an informed decision on October 26th in the up-coming election, they need to have the information that’s available to them about the budget and what the priorities are,” Moore said.
Last year, administration’s preliminary budget was released in October, giving the public more time to digest the complex document and provide feedback before council began deliberations.
It’s left Moore and others to wonder, if it could be done last year, why not this year?
“I simply don’t understand why they wouldn’t be making those same efforts today other than that’s it’s an election,” Moore said.
“Which means it’s even more important that we are having those conversations.”
According to Coun. Charlie Clark, who is also running for mayor, the issue is that there are no meetings scheduled for council in October and there was some discussion about whether it should be part of the electoral discussion leading up to the election.
“Is it before for the public to know or not to know? I think the public should know what’s being considered and to have that as part of the election discussion,” Clark said.
He added that he intends to put a motion forward before city council in September to have the document released before voters head to the polls – if no one else does.
“One way or another we’ll have a chance to vote on that issue and release the budget.”
In response, Mayor Don Atchison said he wasn’t even sure if the process could be rushed and that it wasn’t a concern back in April when the budget and the timelines associated to it’s release were discussed.
“Not one person said it should be done earlier, it almost seems like a flip flop in some cases that’s occurring there,” Atchison said.
If it is possible to bump up the preliminary budget’s release date without comprising the process, the mayor says he open to it.
“If we want to be open and transparent I don’t have any problem with that all, as long as all the facts there I think that’s OK,” Atchison said.
Meanwhile, Clark says the document’s release isn’t about who it’s going to help or hinder during the campaign, but about the best process for the people of Saskatoon.
“The more transparent and accountable you are the more confidence the public has that your making decisions for the right reasons.”
Global News reached out to Henry Dayday, the fourth mayoral candidate at this point, but no comment was provided.
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