Laura DiCarlo [Email address: %20lhdicarlo #AT# - replace #AT# with @ ]

Thank you so much to John Keohane for the Commander's Forum summary posted to the listserve and
for encouraging everyone to sign up to receive the central west area of
command postings.  I also want to share about the City of Austin town
hall budget meeting I attended last Wednesday night at NW Rec Center

The gym was filled with residents sitting at tables of about 8 and we were given a spread sheet of proposed budget cuts with a short explanation of each cut.  An overview of how the Austin
budget works was first done for all to hear, and we were told that
Austin is looking at between a $29 million and $66 million deficit. 
Each table then, facilitated by a city employee, deliberated and voted
to accept or reject each cut.  Results were turned in to be tallied. 
All the department heads were on hand to answer questions at each
table, such as the fire chief, housing and transportation heads, etc. 
City Manager Marc Ott stressed to everyone in attendance that our input
would matter.  The last 30 minutes was left for residents to voice
their concerns and put in plugs to keep certain programs, services,

Fellow Allandale resident Kata Carbone and I had reservations
about the whole process b/c the ground rules of taking each proposal at
face value and avoiding problem solving were not completely
followed.  I was specifically concerned about the reduction in APD
"hotspot" initiatives and voted to reject those cuts.  Many people
voiced concerns about the need to keep basic services of fire, EMS and
police to keep Austin safe but there were also issues about losing
quality of life services such as cutting library hours, youth job
programming, etc. 

The same type of forum is occurring in other parts
of Austin twice this week.  The proposed budget will be delivered to
the city council on 7/22; deliberation will be 8/5,19,26; and the
budget will be adopted 9/14-16.  For more info you can go to COA.budget [Email address: COA.budget #AT# - replace #AT# with @ ] or
Laura DiCarlo