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Residents can have their say in planning Largo's budget

The city is turning to active community members for suggestions on next year's budget.

Largo plans to hold a community roundtable on Saturday with about 50 residents who have been involved in city government.

City leaders want residents to share what services are most important to them and make suggestions on how those services should be funded.

"It's one thing we're trying to do to kind of prepare us as we head into another tough budget year," said Amy Davis, Office of Management & Budget manager. "We want to get more and more community feedback each year."

Early research indicates the city will have to cut its general fund budget by $2-million for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1. The general fund relies heavily on tax money to pay for things such as public safety and recreation.

The roundtable group will be split into several teams and reconvene as a group in the afternoon to discuss issues together.

The group will discuss several topics, including special events and the Largo Cultural Center, and gauge how residents feel about the city's financial commitment to them.

The group also will talk about user fees, like those for recreation programs. Now, the city subsidizes a lot of those programs. Participants will discuss whether people who use certain services should be the ones to pay for them.

Previous efforts to glean public input through focus groups were more structured. But group members said the process didn't let them offer suggestions to increase efficiency or express their ideas on issues they felt were important.

The city wants to encourage more discussion this time, Davis said.

Largo invited more than 200 advisory board members, former elected officials and Largo Citizen Academy graduates to the roundtable. So far, about 45 indicated they would attend. The city is also accepting applications from 10 other residents who want to participate and there are several spaces available.

Other members of the public can attend the roundtable, but they won't be able to offer public comment during the program.

The city also plans a town hall-style budget meeting for the general public Jan. 26. Findings from Saturday's meeting will be presented there.

Residents can offer ideas at the town hall meeting or send suggestions to the city staff at round table@largo.com, Davis said.

IF YOU GO

What's up

What: The city will hold the Community Budget Roundtable.

When: 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. The group discussion will begin at 1 p.m.

Where: The Largo Cultural Center, 105 Central Park Drive.

To apply to participate: Visit largo.com.

What's next

What: A town hall-style Community Budget Meeting.

When: 6 to 9 p.m. Jan. 26.

Where: The Jenkins Room of the Largo Public Library, 120 Central Park Drive.

If you go

What's up

What: The city will hold a

community budget roundtable.

When: 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Saturday. The group discussion will begin at 1 p.m.

Where: Largo Cultural Center, 105 Central Park Drive.

To apply to participate:

Visit largo.com.

What's at stake: Initial research indicates the city

will have to cut its general

fund budget by $2-million for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1.

What's next

What: A town hall-style

community budget meeting.

When: 6 to 9 p.m. Jan. 26.

Where: The Jenkins Room

of the Largo Public Library,

120 Central Park Drive.

Residents can have their say in planning Largo's budget 01/06/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 7, 2009 3:56pm]
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