Got Suggestions for the Budget? Show Us – With New Online Tool

Citizens have four ways to propose changes, including a tool that lets users change individual spending and taxing levels

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

​At budget time, everyone has a suggestion. Spend more money here. Lower a tax there.

Got a suggestion? Tell us. There are four options – a new online tool, an old online tool, live public hearings and email.

New Online Tool – Balancing Act

Balancing Act is a web site that lets citizens tinker with the proposed 2016-17 city budget and suggest changes. Citizens can raise or lower individual taxes, and raise or lower individual spending items. The only catch: The budget must balance.

For every change in spending or revenue, there must be an offsetting change elsewhere. Lower taxes? Sure – but you must also lower spending somewhere, or raise taxes elsewhere, to balance the budget. Want more money for a favorite service? Absolutely – but show us where you’ll get the money by trimming another service, or raise a tax or fee.

Leave comments and hit SUBMIT. The City Council will get all suggested changes and comments.

“When we saw a demo of Balancing Act several months ago, we were impressed by how easy it is to use,” Budget Director Catheryn Whitesell said. “Now we want citizens to try it. There are hundreds of ways to balance the budget, and we spent several months on the city manager’s recommendation. Now it’s your turn. Show us how you would change the budget to reflect your priorities.”

Also, there’s another new online tool to see an estimate of how much you pay in city taxes and what you get for your money. It’s called Taxpayer Receipt and you can find it here:

Anonymously enter your age, income, value of your home and value of your car. The tool will show you an estimate of your total tax bill and where the money is spent. The tool calculates taxes on real estate and personal property, and estimates taxes on restaurant meals and sales based on age and income. It does not include fees for water, sewer, trash and stormwater.

Old Online Tool – Virtual Town Hall

Can’t make it to a live public hearing? That’s OK. Virtual Town Hall lets you submit comments and suggestions online. Visit

Public Hearings

The City Council will hold two public hearings in April, both at 6 p.m.

  • April 21 – Cox High School, 2425 Shorehaven Drive
  • April 26 – City Council chamber, 2401 Courthouse Drive

Comment by email

To send a comment to the entire City Council, contact
To send a comment to an individual City Council member, find email addresses here.
Got a question? Send it to

Read the budget

To read a one-page summary of the budget, click here.
To read the complete budget, visit

  • Open Budget – An online app that lets citizens review, compare, download, visualize and analyze data at the line-item level.
  • Full text of the budget – In three documents: executive summary, operating budget and six-year capital plan. Read the budgets in flipbook format or download PDFs.
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