Information gathering session

While council meetings and public hearings are not unusual in municipal politics, the open house held on Thursday, October 4 in Hardisty was more of an information gathering session than a standard council meeting.
Hardisty Town Council presented its 2012 Capital and Operating Synopsis and 2013-2015 Strategic Plans to a crowd of nearly 75 citizens on Thursday, seeking input on how ratepayers want their tax dollars spent.  According to Kevin O’Grady, mayor of Hardisty, the session is part of an ongoing effort by council to be more accountable to the citizens.

“This is something new, that this council started,” O’Grady told The Review. “We want to find out what the residents want their money to go towards.”
Past councils, according to O’Grady only informed citizens where their money was being spent. O’Grady is hoping these open houses will give the people a stronger voice in the town’s priorities. The meeting was also a follow-up to a previous presentation of the town’s 2012 strategic plan, held in May. The town’s budget expenditures in areas such as roads, protective services, public works and waste management were presented to those assembled, as well as highlighting the town’s strategic priorities for the next three years.
The key to proper allocation of the town’s funds, according to O’Grady, is ensuring the concerns of the people are addressed in decisions of council.
“Every municipality today has a limited amount of money,” O’Grady said. “What we’re looking at are ways to let our community guide us.”
O’Grady pointed out that the increased attendance at this meeting is a sign that they are on the right track. Only 10 people showed up at the open house in May.
While certain townsfolk certainly were vocal in their opinions, many more made their views known on index cards provided by council. The comments on these cards, according to O’Grady, will be collected and read to better gauge the opinion of the community
“We’re working on their behalf,” O’Grady said. “We as a council are making decisions, yes, but at the same time we are considering what the people want.”

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