Last night I attended a budget workshop held by the municipal administrator. This is the first step in the budget process where the administrator makes a proposed budget to the council and lays out all the things he would like the next year's budget to cover. From here, the budget is poked and prodded and possible changes are made and then the council votes on it at the end of the year.
I was rather surprised at the lack of attendance both from council and the public. Granted, this is the first step and there is not really much that happens here, but only two council people showed up, along with one director and one person from the public. Not only was the meeting not mentioned on their website, but I did not see any advertisement in the paper even though someone told me it was there. The only reason I knew about it was an email from a friend, who incidentally was not there himself.
Something like this is important for the public to weigh in on. This proposed budget recommends a $32 average tax increase, which for me and other working folks is doable, but for many others is not. I understand the need for the various things they mentioned, and I was pleasantly surprised that the administrator talked about a 5 year capital plan, something that has not been presented in a long time. The presentation given last night will be on the website and there is a public input period that has to happen. I will be watching closely to see if there will be more notice given. I am anxious to see what happens from here out and if the public apathy continues or they suddenly wake up and scream because a tax increase is pending. Perhaps it was just poor notification that the meeting was ill attended, or perhaps the public just doesn't care anymore.