It's that time of year, again, when Maureen Adams has to trudge out into the glare of the budget spotlight in Cornwall.
Adams, a Cornwall native who spent several years working in the finance industry before returning to the city nearly five years ago to take over as the municipal treasurer, said in an interview she welcomes the ability to engage with the public.
"It's enjoyable," she said. "But I had no idea it was going to be so...positive with respect to the community and being approached when I'm out in the community."
Before returning to the Seaway City, Adams and her husband Drew lived and worked in Toronto. She spent 10 years working for Nissan Canada, including a lengthy stint as the auto manufacturer's treasurer, before accepting the position of finance manager in Cornwall.
"It was an opportunity to come home," she said. "My husband and I always wanted to get back to Cornwall."
She said making the move from a private sector career to that of a public figure in a small city took some getting used to.
"The biggest challenge in this position is trying to understand the pressure from the community on our elected officials, as opposed to making business decisions," Adams said. "Because the (residents) should have input on the direction of the city."
While the 2013 municipal budget process will unfold in much the same way it has in recent years, city managers have been struggling to meet council's requirement that a tax increase this year not go beyond three per cent.
As it stands now, the budget includes a 4.01 per cent tax rate, though the rate on the average home drops to 2.69 per cent because of assessment increases.
Obviously there is still work to be done. Adams forecasts as much as another seven budget committee meetings to get thorugh all the city department operating and capital budgets, while also eyeing budget requests from outside agencies.
She feels the city has set itself up nicely to achieve council's desire to limit a tax increase to three per cent.
"I think we're very competitive," she said. "It's not as though we're at seven, eight or nine per cent and we need to bring it down.
"There's still a lot of discussions to take place with council. We're definitely within the range they have discussed."
The next city budget committee meeting takes place Friday morning. The city planning department, building services, bylaw enforcement, Cornwall Transit and solid waste disposal are expected on the agenda.