Danville City Commission will begin its third consecutive “Listening Sessions” at 5:30 p.m. today at city hall.
As the name implies, the sessions will offer residents a chance to voice their opinions and ideas regarding the city’s budget so the commission can in turn, listen.
Reviews of last year’s budget will be presented by City Manager Ron Scott, then the floor will be opened up for public comment.
“The meeting is for (residents) to give us their input,” said Michele Gosser, city financial consultant.
Scott said the meeting will be strictly about hearing from residents, as a meeting for the commission will be arranged later.
“It’s a gathering of information,” Scott said, adding that city officials will not provide any concrete answers to issues discussed, though some conversation might ensue.
Instead, Scott, with the help of other officials, will produce a report based on what residents say. The report will be posted on the city’s website Feb. 28.
In addition to the listening sessions, a survey will be available on the website through March 15, but only survey responses completed before Feb. 28 will be included in the report.
Scott said one of the advantages of the survey is identifying demographics. He said it will help to see how age groups differ in their opinions of the budget’s importance.
For instance, younger residents might be more interested in seeing funding increased for parks and recreation.
The survey will also include open-ended questions, such as “Are there any community agencies the city needs to stop funding?”
As far as the content discussed, Scott and Gosser said that’s completely up to the public attending.
“This is not a debate session,” Gosser said. “It’s a listening session.”
Some of the more popular topics in the past two years included the water plant project, which makes up 25 percent of utility appropriations in the budget.
Communications, fire and police make up more than half of the general fund appropriations and are popular topics, Scott said, because there is limited funding for them.
For residents not comfortable with speaking up, comment cards are an alternative.
Scott said each attendee will be given a comment card on which they can write an issue or opinion. An official will read the card to the public for discussion.
Scott said the past sessions have operated smoothly and generated good discussion, but he wants to remind the public that cities have limited revenues.
“There may be things we would all like to do, but money is an issue,” he said.
Another listening session will be 10 a.m. Feb. 16 at city hall. To access the online survey, visit www.danvilleky.org.