And we're off on budget hearings and transparency...
9a.Request the City Council, in conjunction with the City Administration, consider establishing a series of three public hearings across the City relating to the Fiscal Year 2010 budget to provide maximum budget-related data to the general public and to receive maximum public input all modeled after the successful protocols implemented in the City of Portland, Oregon. Also, request that there be a comment section created on the City’s web site to allow immediate remote commentary as a result of these community hearings.
Councilor Toomey has proposed the motion, in the name of transparency.
Councilor Clancy says Council "unlike School Committee through the years" has met a number of times in an open, televised process..."I really think we do have an open transparent process." He comments that he likes the process as it is.
Clancy asks if we have a schedule for the budget hearings. The Manager answers that the budget is still waiting for final information on the application of federal stimulus money; he intended to have it ready this Friday...but now it's looking like it's going to be Tuesday instead. It will be presented with a budget summary this year, rather than a budget message as per usual.
Toomey says she's not asking to change the budget process, but to add meetings, hearings..."it doesn't have to be our budget session" She insists that the public be recognized, as not everyone can make the regular Council sessions.
Councilor Rosen notes that it's a suggestion.
Councilor Rushton calls the budget process "stale and unengaging...it may be tough at this point" He says we can engage the public...notes the governor goes online to engage the public..."it's here..." He speaks of the smart phones offered to the Councilors: "We've had a largely unengaged citizenry while the budget hearings are happening"
Councilor Eddy rises to "amend" after a reminder from the mayor that they may only rise for a limited number of reasons...he doesn't think the budget process is stale. He would like the subcommittees go out to hear public commentary on the budget.
Councilor Clancy suggests flip-flopping the budget hearings and the regular Council meeting: the meetings at 4, the hearings at 7.
Toomey says that it's a "hearing about the budget" not "a budget hearing," "away from City Hall." The various items pass for at least consideration.