A screenshot of Oak Bay’s 2019 citizen budget tool. (Jesse Laufer/News Staff)

Interactive budget tool launches in Oak Bay

Citizen-created mock budgets targeting specific areas going to council

Oak Bay residents will be able to act as municipal planners beginning this long weekend.

As part of the municipality’s budget consultation process, Oak Bay is bringing back its citizen budget. Citizen budget is a web-based simulator that helps engage residents in budgetary planning.

Residents go online and using their own property assessment values are able to see where exactly their tax dollars go. Then, residents can adjust targeted sliders—i.e. roads, water, police, recreation etc.— to decrease, increase or maintain service levels to see what impact it would have on their taxes.

RELATED: Year-end budget adjustments, 2019 utility hikes on the table at council

Once residents have finished tinkering with their budgets, they can submit them to council.

“The budget simulator provides citizens with immediate feedback on how their choices will impact property taxes allowing residents to inform Council on their wishes to maintain levels of service, increase and/or decrease levels of service,” reads a FAQ published alongside the simulator.

“It’s the second year we’ve done it,” said Mayor Kevin Murdoch. “It does three things: it provides continuity, it’s also primarily another feedback tool for us from citizens to get a sense of where people’s priorities are. It also gives the public a sense of what parts of the budget are discretionary, and what parts are committed.”

Staff will bring the citizen budget report to a budget meeting in April or May, the FAQ said.

Registration is open to Oak Bay residents only. Participants should have their 2018 housing assessments handy when registering.

Multiple adults from the same household can complete separate entries, however, once an individual’s budget is submitted it cannot be changed.

The citizen budget will be open from Feb. 15 to March 15. By going to oakbay.ca, residents will be able to access the online tool. Paper copies will also be available for pickup from the municipal hall and must be returned by the March 15 closing date.

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