As a councillor for more years than I care to remember, I can see just why most people get turned off by local government finance.
The powers-that-be seem to do their best to make the subject as complicated and difficult to get into as possible.
But, of course, the money the council has is absolutely fundamental to what we can do. All our hopes of action to make Sandwell a better place for us all are just that – hopes and dreams – without hard cash to turn them into reality.
Nobody needs reminding in these days of austerity that Sandwell (and all other councils up and down the country) are facing cuts of many millions of pounds in the money we get from the Government.
We’re doing our best to cope and manage these cuts so we can focus our spending on the things we believe are most important to local people.
I like to think that I and the rest of the council’s leadership have our ear to the ground and, therefore, a good idea of what Sandwell people want. But it’s always good to talk, as they say.
That’s why I want to alert people to a new survey by the council on spending.
In the jargon (and it wouldn’t be local government finance without the jargon!) it’s called a “Simultaneous Multi Attribute Level Trade Off” or Simalto Survey.
But don’t let that put you off.
The survey aims to give Sandwell residents, council employees and other interested parties a chance to give their views on how the council should spend and prioritise its budget.
The results will feed into the council’s budget-making process for the next three financial years – from 1 April next year.
If you would like to participate in the SIMALTO Survey, you can click on this link and then follow the instructions.
You can also complete the survey on one of the computers at our 19 libraries in the borough.
I’d urge you to do so.
We genuinely want to know what people think and the survey highlights some tough options that we have to consider.
In an ideal world we wouldn’t be cutting budgets, but things are rarely ideal. One thing’s for sure: the more views we have, the more chance we have of making good decisions.