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All-important budget forum tonight

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Residents will have another opportunity tonight to comment on St. Petersburg’s proposed FY2011 spending plan before Mayor Bill Foster makes his budget recommendation to City Council in July. Residents will be able to comment during a third public budget forum at 6 p.m. in City Hall Council Chamber, 175 Fifth St. N. The public is invited. The forum will follow the format of budget forums held in April and May.

“This is the last chance residents have to provide input into possible budget reductions my proposed budget is forwarded to Council,” said Mayor Bill Foster.  “We’re asking citizens to help us determine where budget reductions would have the least impact and still allow us to maintain a high level of service.”

The city is facing up to a $14 million shortfall next year and residents could see reductions or elimination of services as city leaders attempt to balance the budget.

“We’re still looking for ways to close the gap without eliminating vital services, decreasing the quality of service to our residents or putting more financial strain on an already overburdened taxpayer,” Foster stated.

After the July 1 budget recommendation, there will be two other opportunities for public comment before the budget’s official adoption by City Council. Public hearings September 9 and 23 will be held at City Hall, 175 Fifth St. N and begin at 6 p.m.

Tonight’s budget forum will be broadcast live on StPeteTV, Channel 35, as well as streamed on the web at www.stpete.org. For more information on the budget and public forum, visit www.stpete.org/budget.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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