Just got back from a 2-1/2 hour meeting at the Avondale Pride Center, one of a series being held around the city, led by Citizens for Civic Renewal. CCR, along with a number of other civic organizations, has created a process whereby we might return to the good old days of citizen input. Or perhaps get even better.
We were divided into small groups from the outset. Then the Community Development Budget Director talked us through the main handout, which gave us basic information on the budget now, and some possible ways next year’s $51 million projected deficit might be addressed – both in terms of cutting services and increasing revenue. After that, we were on our own as a group for over an hour, talking through and working out how to balance the budget.
It just proved to me what I’ve always known – citizens are very smart. As the groups reported out, each one had clearly taken the broad view of the city as a whole, and also taken into consideration their own personal experiences in their communities.
The citizens in that room were very willing to tax themselves for the good of the whole – and to reduce the city police budget substantially. They were much more reluctant to reduce the fire/emt budget, as well as most other city services budgets.
There are two more meetings using this process in other parts of the city, and then an overall meeting on June 5. Google Citizens for Civic Renewal – all the documents we worked with are on their website. And here’s an email for them: email@example.com. I hope you can make it to one of these gatherings. It’ll make you feel better about the state of our wonderful town.