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Getting involved in the process

City will televise budget workshops, meetings

September 29, 2010 | 08:41 AM
In the past, some city aldermen complained residents haven't had enough early input into the city's budget process.

This time around, Alderman and Finance, License and Regulation Committee Chairman Todd Krause is going to make sure the 2011 budget is as transparent as it can be.

Krause presented a complete budget schedule during the city's Monday, Sept. 13, meeting and also announced that several of the workshops and committee meetings would be televised on the city's Time Warner cable access channel 25. In the past, budget meetings and workshops have been open to the public, however, there was no schedule posted and the meetings weren't on television.

"The more we can be transparent, the more the people see the process," Krause said after the meeting. "I think it is a healthy thing to see. People see the services, but they don't always know the costs of those services."

The budget process in the city has already started internally. Department heads were scheduled to have their budget requests to City Administrator Dennis Jordan on Sept. 17. Those requests were compiled by Jordan, Comptroller Peg Pollitt and Krause by Sept. 24.

After that the public meetings and workshops will be held.

Krause said the first televised meeting will be Monday, Oct. 4, from 10 a.m. to noon. At that time, the departments will present their budget requests to the Finance Committee. Krause said this is when the department heads will "justify" their requests.

Budget workshops are set for Tuesday Oct. 5 from 10 a.m. to noon and on Thursday, Oct. 7, from 6 to 8 p.m. Krause said the work will start on Tuesday and that meeting will continue on Thursday.

During those meetings, the information being presented is expected to be shown on the white boards on both sides of the City Hall Council Chambers so the television viewers and those in attendance can see the numbers.

Then, the Finance Committee will present an update on the budget process at its meeting Monday, Oct. 11. On Tuesday, Oct. 19, the council will hold a workshop and review the budget. The budget also will be put on the city's website around the same time.

On Monday, Oct. 25, the Finance Committee and City Council will vote on the budget summary for official publication. On Nov. 22 at 5 p.m., there will be a public hearing for the 2011 budget with the City Council meeting to follow.

Alderwoman Mary Jo Fesenmaier, who in the past has requested more public participation opportunities in the budget process, commended Krause for the schedule and effort.

"This is a clear schedule and allows for a lot of public comment opportunities," she said.

"We're here to serve the people," Krause said. "We are going to open it up so people can watch the television. It's an interesting process and people will have a chance to see that."

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