Town seeking public input to be considered in budget

By Merna Emara
Staff Writer

The Town of Fort Frances is seeking input from the public to be considered in the 2022 municipal operating budget.

Town treasurer Dawn Galusha said this is an opportunity for town residents to submit requests for the town asking them to either continue providing a specific service or consider a new one.

“If there’s something that we have missed in the past, and they feel that it would be a good thing that the town should be doing, it’s something that we can review with council, whether it’s something we can afford to do in this year’s budget or if it’s something we need to analyze further,” Galusha added.

Galusha said residents are most welcome to submit requests for services that are not offered in the municipality.

“In the past, we’ve received requests from Meals on Wheels and various other organizations that ask for a grant, or some sort of money from the town, as well,” Galusha said. “Coun. [Douglas] Judson also had a post and suggested that if somebody wants us to continue with the summer programming for children, to make that known to council so that we will put it in the budget.”

After residents submit their requests for consideration, all the information goes into the budget process. Town managers will then suggest to council whether they should include it or not.

Council always has the last direction, Galusha said, adding that they can budget for something that administration advises against.

Generally, however, Galusha said council works to stick to the budget, because the town anticipates a certain amount in tax dollars to fund operations. They either need to stick to what is in the budget or, in cases of a surplus, put money into reserves at the end of the year.

“If we have excess funds, we have the option to carry that surplus forward to the following year to reduce the taxes the following year,” Galusha said. “In most cases, if council wants to go with an idea or initiative that a resident has brought forward, then council would commit to it. Whether they’re committing to it in March, or July, or September, they would fully commit and move that forward.”

Galusha added that they don’t normally consider requests for capital improvements, however, because the established asset management plan steers the town’s capital – especially when it comes to roads, as an example.

“We actually don’t want people putting in capital requests. In the past, we’ve received requests for a specific road to be replaced this year,” Galusha explained.

“And we have a robust asset management plan, which is supposed to gear the next road to be replaced based on need. Of course, we always need funding to help us with those, because they’re very expensive. The failing infrastructure is key – rather than the number of potholes on a road.”

All requests for input should be sent to town clerk Gabrielle Lecuyer by email, no later than noon on December 9. Galusha said they welcome early submissions, as staff will be working to put the agenda together in preparation for the Dec. 13 council meeting.