City leaders want to hear from you about the upcoming budget.
We have created an online forum called Virtual Town Hall at www.VBgov.com/virtualtownhall where citizens can discuss budget issues and answer three questions. Your answers will help guide the city’s budget discussions.
A special online tool lets residents spend a hypothetical $500 to indicate their priorities for funding key areas of the budget. The tool also lets citizens offer their thoughts on other aspects of the budget. The results will be sent to the City Council and senior city staff, including the city manager. This Virtual Town Hall will close on March 1.
In two months, on March 26, City Manager James K. Spore will propose a combined city-and-schools budget for 2013-14. The City Council will then hold hearings, discuss the budget, make adjustments and approve a final budget on May 14.
For the fifth year in a row, the city and schools face a projected shortfall, estimated at $46 million. While this is large, the gap is about half of what it was a year ago. The gap is caused largely by factors outside the city’s control – rising expenses for health care and retirement, and declining revenues from real estate taxes and the state. Half the gap is for city operations such as police, libraries, road maintenance and parks. The City Council must close this gap and balance the budget.
The first step in the city’s budget preparation is a 5-Year Forecast, prepared in November, which discusses trends in city revenues, expenses and general economic conditions. It is available here. For more information on the budget, visit www.VBgov.com/budget.
Virtual Town Hall is an online citizen engagement tool, launched in December as part of www.VBgov.com. City staff will update it periodically to encourage citizen discussion of important issues. A forum on the proposed arena just ended, and another on a proposed dog park at Bayville Farms Park is still open.
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