Charlottesville Leaders Looking for Resident Input in '09 Budget

By: Matt Holmes Email
By: Matt Holmes Email

Saturday, October 20, 2007

What do the mayor, city council and city planners do on a Saturday morning?

They don't sleep in or watch college football pregame shows. Instead, on this Saturday, they packed the cafeteria at Buford Middle School.

"Today we had a session to try to talk specifically about our capital expenditures, money we spend on buildings, roads, sidewalks, things that last for a while," says Charlottesville Mayor David Brown.

The session heavily involved the public as they asked questions, made suggestions and fully integrated themselves into the budget-making process.

Next month, the city will send a voter survey to every home; these surveys are a chance to let you rank which services are most important in your community.

The surveys will be broken down statistically, then presented to the
council so that they know exactly what people want to see happen in the budget. But that's not the only way leaders are reaching out.

"As the budget progresses, we have budget work sessions with the community," Brown says. "[T]here's lots of different ways we try to hear from people: what do they think about the budget, what do they want to see us do and not do?"

The mayor adds that all that outreach is simply a part of being a good democracy.

"This is the citizens' city. We're an elected government, and we try to represent what the community wants us to do and direction they want to go and having specific input on the budget is very important."

The voter surveys will be mailed out with next month's water bills. They'll also be posted on the city's Web site for those who would rather print them off and fill them out. The surveys are due at the end of December. The council will finalize a budget next April.

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