Tallahassee Residents Discuss 2012 Budget

More than 150 residents voiced their opinions Wednesday night on the planned $726 million budget for Tallahassee’s 2012 fiscal year.

Citizens from the Tallahassee community and city officials analyzed information and discussed how the money should be spent in a series of meetings.

“Us (city officials) knowing what’s important to the people who pay taxes is what matters,” said City Manager Anita Favors-Thompson.

At the start of the meeting, Favors-Thompson thanked residents for attending. For the past three years, she said, the city has been thinking of ways to present the budget to the people.

“I came out because I thought it was a meeting concerning the senior center but I’m glad I’m here,” said Patricia Thomas, a Tallahassee native.

City matters – like utilities, recreation, safety, transportation and others – were printed on boards throughout the Tallahassee Senior Center. Officials handed residents handed residents green and red dots as entered, and told them to select their most important concerns with green and their least in red.

Michelle Bono, assistant city manager, likened the quick feedback process to “speed dating.”

“I’m glad that we’re giving people a chance to voice their opinions because how would we really know,” said Raoul Lavin, director of the department of management and administration for the city. The “biggest piece of the pie” goes to salaries and benefits, Lavin explained.

“The purpose of the meeting is to educate,” said Major David Hendry of the Tallahassee Police Department.

“Basically I came out to support the city but I’m most concerned with sustainability,” said Imad Lutfi, an English student at Florida A&M.

People who couldn’t make the meeting have another chance. Officials are hosting an online survey at the City of Tallahassee website with the same questions about city plans.

“It’s not everyone’s opinion but just enough feedback to present to the city commissioner,” Favors-Thompson.