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Forums on the City Budget: Tight Times, Tough Choices
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January 27, 2009, Volume 55, No. 19

The University of Pennsylvania Project for Civic Engagement is hosting four community forums across the city to gather citizen input that can be incorporated into developing the city’s proposed budget for 2010.

The City Budget: Tight Times, Tough Choices, Citizen Priorities was developed by the Penn Project for Civic Engagement, as part of the Great Expectations project, using a grant from the William Penn Foundation.

In the face of the financial crisis facing the city, this university-led independent research project on civic dialogue aims to identify which items and services Philadelphia’s citizens would give priority to and why.

These forums will be held mid-February; for dates/locations,  see www.gse.upenn.edu/ppce.

Harris Sokoloff, the director of the Project for Civic Engagement, and a team of trained moderators will foster discussions at each event. The Project is housed at Penn’s Graduate School of Education.

“These four community forums will engage residents in informed and informative deliberation about the real financial challenges facing the city and the budget process,” Mr. Sokoloff said. “By engaging Philadelphians in focused and realistic deliberations about priorities and trade-offs, we will include them and their views in the city’s public process for developing budget priorities before the budget is proposed.”

Participants will consider real city budget information, including cuts under consideration and ideas for new revenue. The City of Philadelphia’s Budget Office will work in partnership with this community forum project, providing detailed budget information. Top city officials, including the finance and budget directors, as well as other senior officials, will be there to explain the city’s fiscal outlook.

In turn, the Project for Civic Engagement will share the research data it compiles with the Nutter administration. In addition, the city will report back to the public on how citizen input was taken into consideration when developing the budget.

At the end of the four forums, the Penn Project for Civic Engagement will post the data on its website and prepare a final report to the mayor illustrating common ideas and trade-offs.

For information: www.whyy.org/city or www.greatexpectationsnow.com or (215) 898-1112.

Almanac - January 27, 2009, Volume 55, No. 19