Is your town in trouble?

>> 7.12.2010

Thanks to the recession, lower home values (= lower property taxes) and public spending has created a giant hole in my city's budget. For 2011 alone, Austin is expected to have a budget deficit of $11 million to $28 million! Obviously, cuts need to be made and my local government has come up with an interesting way of gathering feedback on where to slash the budget.

They've created a community forum  that even the busiest can attend... online:

Involved citizens could add their say into the city budget by casting "votes" towards the potential service reductions and additions that are most important to them.

For a city of about 800,000, the voting numbers were still pretty low, but they're surely more impressive than the numbers that usually attend the counsel meetings downtown. It will be interesting to see how this community input is used towards deciding how to cure the big budget deficit for 2011.

Is your town in financial trouble? How do you participate in your local budgeting process?

PS If you'd like to see the results of Austin's online forums go here and here.


hiphousegirl July 13, 2010 at 3:35 PM  

I'm not sure if it's just a Pollyanna attitude, but I work in Economic Development in Salt Lake City and everything I've heard is that this city is one of the least hard hit cities in the country. Our fantastic Governor Huntsman (who left us to be Ambassador to China, boo hoo) had set aside a sizeable "rainy day fund", which has been really helpful. He also started a few other economic development initiatives before the recession even hit, so I think that's been a tremendous help- to us.

Sara @ Russet Street Reno July 13, 2010 at 11:21 PM  

Our city is pretty bad off. When Obama came here, there were loads of people along the roads flipping him off because so many in our city have been out of work for almost two years. I don't know how much more they can cut from our budget, but our unemployment is over 14 percent so we desperately need new companies to offer jobs - and generate revenue for the city.

Alexis L., The Studioist July 14, 2010 at 7:26 AM  

NYC is in less trouble than a lot of other cities, which is a blessing for many reasons, not the least of which is budgets are a top-down affair with basically no direct public input except the occasional street protest.

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