July 16th, 2024

Spearman weighs in on City finances

By Ry Clarke - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on February 4, 2023.

Herald photo by Ry Clarke Former mayor Chris Spearman speaks on the subject of City finances during Thursday's SACPA session.

On Thursday the Southern Alberta Council on Public Affairs heard from Lethbridge’s former mayor, Chris Spearman, giving audience members a unique look into the City of Lethbridge’s finances.

Titled “What I Learned about City of Lethbridge Finances”, Spearman looked to enlighten and share his experiences working with the City and what he saw during his eight years of service on Lethbridge City Council.

“I’m going to be talking about municipal finances, especially in light of recent proposed tax increases and approved tax increases. Giving some history and perspective, and encouraging people to become more financially literate when it comes to municipal taxes,” said Spearman, who noted his speech was not political, and not intended to be critical of the current mayor and council. “I am here to provide some financial information, the things I learned when I was mayor that may be helpful to the people of Lethbridge and the taxpayers. Helping them become more informed going into the future.”

Spearman notes the importance of accountability with finances, indicating there needs to be verification in accuracy.

“City Council and the departments are playing a different game. I describe it like Charlie Brown and Lucy with the football, it’s a different game. Departments at budget time are always looking to maximize, whether it’s the operating budget or increase their capital budget. I was surprised at some of the requests,” said Spearman. “As a counsellor, you have to be aware that they are playing a different game. I call it trust, but verify. When they are presenting information, you have to be respectful but also ask questions. You have to find ways to independently verify that the information is accurate.”

On public awareness, Spearman says that the City needs to work on feedback, but also how it is delivered to residents.

“There needs to be more public engagement. We have public engagement before the budget is passed, but I think it would be helpful if we actually had discussions on the reports that the finance department presents. Like the unaudited report, which provides a lot of detail and descriptions of variances from budgets. More public engagement on the reports produced by the finance department, I think, would generate more questions that might help City Council formulate better questions for administration,” said Spearman.

Spearman’s talk showed insight into the City of Lethbridge, giving those in the audience a sneak peak behind the curtain to see how things work.

“We want to make sure that Lethbridge is a vibrant community for those that continue to invest in it,” said Spearman.

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Sorry, but this man has zero credibility and absolutely no basis for his analogies. I believe his signature comment was “Why don’t you just leave!” When he was in office.