Town council has agreed that the establishment of a task force is the best way to examine alternative budget processes.

During its committee-of-a-whole meeting last week, they debated what would be the best approach and the level of public engagement in the discussion. Town administration returned with a term of references that appeared to satisfy those concerns.

Councillor Alex Reed, who put the motion on the table, believed a task force was the appropriate approach.

"This needs some concentrated, dedicated focus to be able to get it right," said Reed. "Through the budget process, there were some of our colleagues who had trouble with that, and I'm hoping this will be the opportunity and the platform for them to address that."

Councillor Marni Fedeko praised for administration for incorporating the opportunity for public engagement into the terms of reference, something that was absent in a previous draft.

"It's very important to me, so I'm glad to see a lot of references to how the public is going to be engaged in different ways that we can make sure that we're carrying that forward into the future."

Mayor Jeff Genung and councillors Marni Fedeyko and Patrick Wilson will represent council on the task force, with Councillor Tara McFadden serving as an alternate. It also includes CAO Mike Derricott, Corporate Services executive director Katherine Van Keimpema or a designate and a representative of corporate strategy and communications.

It will review the current budget process, research and consider alternative budget processes in whole or in part, research and consider public engagement alternatives, and make recommendations for the budget process and public engagement improvements to council.

There is some flexibility for the times and frequency of the meetings, but the intent is for it to meet at least once a month, ideally during town business hours. 

Exactly what portions, if any of it, will be streamed for public consumption will be discussed by the task force, likely at its first meeting.

Councillor Susan Flowers was concerned streaming the proceedings live would prevent a free flow of ideas.

A suggestion of Councillor McFadden to provide periodic updates at committee-of-the-whole meetings to provide the public insight was met with favour by several councillors.