The 2021 budget season for the Municipality of Chatham-Kent is going virtual.
Council approved staff recommendations in a report during their electronic meeting held on Monday, October 5, 2020 for a schedule for the 2021 budget committee meetings.
The report also outlined details for online community consultation in lieu of community open house meetings.
“Due to COVID-19, community open houses will be suspended for the 2021 budget season,” Steve Brown, director of budget and performance services, in a staff report.
“To garner public input into the 2021 budget, EMT will attend three online and interactive events staggered at different times during a three-day period. By having one online event per day, EMT will not need to split between two locations and all members will be able to be present and answer questions from the public.”
The following schedule and plan was approved by Council on Monday:
– First night of budget, Wednesday, January 13 at 6 p.m. Information meeting to review issues facing Council and administration’s recommendations. Public deputations for funding will be scheduled for this evening as well. YourTV will provide a broadcast of the meeting.
– Online budget presentation and community consultations, Tuesday, January 19 at 12 p.m., Wednesday, January 20 at 4 p.m. and Thursday, January 21 at 6 p.m. A brief presentation followed by answering questions and comments posed.
– Budget committee meetings, Wednesday, January 27, Thursday January 28 and Tuesday, February 2, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Public participation scheduled via written deputations. YourTV will provide a broadcast of the meetings.
– Contingency budget committee meetings, only if needed, Wednesday, February 3 and Thursday, February 4, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. YourTV will provide a broadcast of the meetings.
Don Shropshire, the chief administrative officer in Chatham-Kent, said during a recent press conference that he expects regular Council meetings to continue being held virtually as well, until at least until 2021.
“Council believes, although they would prefer to be in Council Chambers for many reasons, the current system is working, it’s safer, it accommodates all of the requirements for doing Council business,” Shropshire said.
“So for the foreseeable future, we believe it’s safer and more prudent just to stay where we’re at. We’ll be re-looking at that into the New Year. For now, we’re planning on staying in virtual mode.”
Council has not met for a face-to-face meeting at the Civic Centre in Chatham since the middle of March.