The City of Chestermere wants residents to provide input on how they’d like to slice the city’s budget pie. And in return, residents could win a pie of their own.
As part of an ongoing public engagement initiative, the City of Chestermere is surveying citizens before undertaking its 2019-22 budget cycle. Respondents use an interactive budget simulator on the City’s website.
The survey’s results may guide the City’s operational expenses in the future, according to City of Chestermere Controller Brenda Hewko.
“It’s, first and foremost, to engage with the public so that they have an opportunity to show the City any of their thoughts or ideas that we can try to include into the budget,” she said.
The survey launched Aug. 3 and runs until Sept. 17. It asks residents which of the City’s eight functions they feel should get a slight increase in funding, and which ones they think should get a decrease.
The eight functions include fire and emergency, policing and enforcement, city hall, community and social development, parks and recreation, roads and infrastructure, planning and development and general government.
“It’s an opportunity for people to learn about the eight different functions, what they do, what the impact is [and]what the status quo is,” Hewko said.
The simulator shows the portion of a resident’s municipal property taxes that is currently allocated to each function, she said, and how much it would change based on the resident’s suggestions.
“[For example], it says, right now, it costs $402 dollars of property tax funding to run the category of government called ‘general government’,” Hewko said. “If you were to increase this amount, it tells you what increases would look like [and]how much it would cost.”
According to Hewko, the survey uses a $500,000 property value assessment as the tool’s pre-set value, but respondents can put their own assessment instead.
As a thank you to those who participate, she added, the City will draw a name each week and that person will receive a voucher for real pie, from Happy Bakers bakery, in Chestermere.
The pie giveaway has clearly been an appetizing incentive – Hewko said the City has already received more than 140 responses from residents, as of Sept. 6.
“We’re very happy with the number of responses and encourage more people to go in,” she said. “There’s still some time, if they want to submit their ideas. We’d love to hear them.”
As a part of its budget setting process, the City has introduced another crowdsourcing initiative, as well. The City has an interactive map posted to its website, which residents can use to pin-drop their project suggestions. Hewko said these ideas could include adding trees or a public bench to a certain park.
She said the interactive map allows residents to add their own suggestions, or like ideas submitted by other residents.
“We’ll start to get a magnitude of, ‘This idea has one like, or eight likes, or whatever’,” she said.
Like the budget simulator, the interactive map has also been well received by residents. According to Hewko, it’s garnered more than 25 ideas and 100 responses as of Sept. 6.
Hewko said the results of the public engagement survey will be brought to Chestermere City council at a meeting Sept. 25.