Friday, February 18, 2011

Citizen Blogger Perspective: Christiansburg asks citizens for input on how tax money should be spent?

Christiansburg asks citizens for input on how tax money should be spent?Depot Dazed Depot Dazed

Christiansburg asks citizens for input on how tax money should be spent? Posted on February 15, 2011 by Carol Lindstrom

My first response to this? “What? Who? How?”. Then it went to “this is a joke, isn’t it?”, no government does that. They must mean it will be something that happens during the scheduled budget meetings that few citizens ever attend. That’s gotta be it. They couldn’t be asking citizens for information in an open format encouraging all citizens to participate.

NOPE WRONG! It is coming in your next water bill if you are a resident of Christiansburg. If you miss that it will be coming to the meetings of various civic groups like the Lions Club, the Kiwanis Club, the NAACP! Mayor Ballengee even offered to have PR Chief Becky Wilburn go to other meetings if those groups will but contact Town Hall and ask.

What you will see in that water bill is an exercise that I had a chance to see when I attended the Priority Based Budgeting presentation held at the end of the year. It is a tool to help citizens to better understand the budgeting process. You are given a list of projects and you have a fictional $100 that you can distribute to those services in order for them to run for the next year. Your assessment of the importance of such services is indicted by how much money you provide to each service.

Of course, not all services are listed. Many services are mandated at the State or Federal level and it doesn’t matter how much you or government like or don’t like them, they must be done. The important thing is that citizens are being asked to participate. Not just voters as happens on election day, but all citizens.

Will this solve all the economic problems the Town of Christiansburg may face? Absolutely not, but it is a great starting place. It is also a great representation of how the Town is actively reaching out to citizens and practicing open government.
Please pay attention to your water bill. Look inside the envelop for the other piece of paper and take the time to complete the form. If you belong to a group where citizens of Christiansburg are likely to be found, call the Town and see if you can get Ms. Wilburn to come to your meeting. She can assist people in completing the form right there. To tell the truth, I like the idea of groups doing this together because it really does help to see things from other people’s perspectives.

I’ll give kudos to the town now for taking the first step. I’ll reserve kudos to citizens until the data is in and we see if people participate. This is a great opportunity to have some say in how your tax money is spent. Please don’t waste it!

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