The May 29 Sentinel editorial (“Having a real say”) stated that the public would have only one opportunity to comment or ask questions regarding the city budget, at a public hearing scheduled for Thursday, May 30.
As chairman of the Finance, Organization and Personnel Committee of the Keene City Council, I am charged with the responsibility for the review of the budget. The finance committee recommended changes and amendments, which will be discussed and voted on by the full council.
I can state that throughout the process, public comments were allowed and encouraged at every session, first at presentations by city staff, and during the page-by-page review by the committee. The fact that few residents availed themselves of the opportunity to participate is correctly stated in the editorial.
It was the mayor’s feeling that it would be most beneficial to the public is if the public hearing was held after the finance committee finished its work, so the public could consider the amended budget. Perhaps that will have led to more members of the public speaking at the public hearing. I certainly hope so.
If elected your next mayor, I will be in a position to have a major say in the planning of the process for the future budget. I will work with staff to arrange the schedule to allow for two public hearings and promote participation in the presentations and review.
I agree with The Sentinel that we need discussions about how to make the budget process more understandable and accessible by the public.
98 Peg Shop Road