Wards to host meetings about city budget

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 3, 2003

The city council is taking its proposed budget to the city.

Ward meetings have been set, and council members hope to get feedback from citizens about the proposal and hear some opinions about possible solutions to the budget crisis.

Director of Administrative Services Tom Dankert will present the budget at the start of each meeting. After that, the floor will be open for discussion.

Email newsletter signup

"There's a lot of smart people in this town," Pete Christopherson, 2nd Ward council member, said. "Maybe they've got ideas that we haven't thought of."

Council members will take those ideas back to their work sessions for discussion. A final budget won't be voted on until the state budget it finalized at the Capitol.

"In a sense, we're waiting to find out what the final figures are from the state," Mickey Jorgenson, council member from the 1st Ward, said. "Until that point, we can still be open to change."

Christopherson said the opinions of citizens in his ward will have an impact on his decisions on the council.

"They voted you in to make decisions, but on the same token, you've got to have their input," he said. "That's the balancing act. That's part of the process."

While public input is important, there are some aspects of the proposal that simply have to go through, Christopherson said. He said some fee increases were examples of that.

"There are things we pretty much know are going to happen," Christopherson said. "It would be nice to get the blessing from the public, but I know there are some things they won't like."

Funding and personnel cuts are a big part of the proposal. It is designed to offset cuts of $933,000 this year and $1.8 million in 2004 from Local Government Aid that would occur if Gov. Tim Pawlenty's proposal gets passed.

The 1st Ward's meeting will be at 7 p.m. April 15, at the Sumner Elementary School cafeteria. The meeting for the 2nd Ward is at 7 p.m. April 14, at the Southgate Elementary School cafeteria. The 3rd Ward's meeting will be at 7 p.m. April 17, in the Neveln Elementary School cafeteria.

The council is also considering holding a town meeting sometime at the end of April, but that hasn't been decided on yet.

Jorgenson is excited to have the dialogue with members of her ward.

"I hope there's standing room only at all three of these (meetings)," she said.

Matt Merritt can be reached at 434-2214 or by e-mail at :mailto:matt.merritt@austindailyherald.com