An update on Budget Season and community engagement initiatives

Dear friends,

As I am settling in to my new role, I am keeping as busy as ever.  While I won’t give you a monthly run down of how many meetings I’ve attended and what for, I do want to give you a general sense of the work I am doing for you. Most days I am working about 40 hours a week specifically on City Council items. This includes attending Committee and Board meetings, Council Meetings, as well as reviewing reports, responding to constituents and working on a few projects.  I have officially begun a Leave of Absence from my job.  I believe that in order to manage the responsibility that you have given me, I need to give it my all.  At the same time, I need to balance home/family with my council responsibilities.  Taking a leave of absence from my regular job has allowed me to find the best balance for my new role, my family and my community commitments.

As you receive this, City Council is a few weeks into the 2015 Budget.  The City has hosted several Build-a-Budget workshops which allowed for community input and questions.  Additionally, you can go to the Build-a-Budget website to see what choices you may make when it comes to budgeting.  The link is still active here. City Councillors are charged with a large task – to effectively budget and spend nearly $1,000,000,000.  This amount represents both the Capital and Operating Budget. I have received several emails, from constituents regarding their thoughts on where London should be investing money.  I deliberately say investing. We are making decisions which impact the long term outcomes of our City.

As I indicated through my campaign, I believe that there is a balance – each request must be looked at to determine what the return on investment is.  I also know, that many of us are struggling to keep up with growing bills and expenses each month.  We want to limit the increases as much as possible and save the money that is in our own bank accounts.  I have heard loud and clear from constituents that all spending must be carefully considered and efficiencies need to be found.  As always, I welcome your input on either the budget in general or on specific items.  I am working through the large budget book and have many questions that I will be asking on the floor before I am able to vote on each item.

During my campaign period I also promised regular ward meetings.  I am happy to announce that the first meeting has been scheduled for March 4: 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm at Westmount Public School. Mayor Brown will also be in attendance.  My intent is to provide an opportunity to answer your questions, and provide information about upcoming items before council.  This meeting will be an informal discussion and opportunity for me to hear from you.  I hope that you plan to attend. Please register with by clicking here so that I can plan for appropriate setup.

Lastly, I would like to tell you about the Shift Rapid Transit Plan.  There will be a public conversation at the Central Library on February 4, 2015. At this point the City is requesting public participation to help determine the direction that Rapid Transit will go, and what it may look like.  Your voice is important, and there are many ways to participate including the public conversation, twitter, and online at shiftlondon.ca.  Please see the link below for more details about Shift.
If you would like to share your opinion or ask questions about a specific request, please phone or email me with those thoughts.
Virginia Ridley

Councillor
Ward 10

Call or Text: 226-927-0539
Email: vridley@london.ca
300 Dufferin Ave, Suite 314
LONDON ON N6A 4L9

Like me on facebook: www.facebook.com/vridley
Follow me on twitter: @virginia_ridley

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