Finance, budget development major focus for council

Low turnouts at the Claremont community budget meetings, held in early February, set a precedent of overall low citizen participation in the city’s 2012-2014 budget development process.

A total 124 respondents, less than one percent of the Claremont population, participated at the public workshops or via an online survey opportunity provided by the city. Of the 124 participants, 90 participated through an interactive online survey available on the city’s website. Sixty percent of participants have lived in Claremont for more than 15 years, with a majority over the age of 55. Thirty-six percent were aged between 25 to 54.

The raw data gathered from both the online survey and public meetings, presented to the city council last week, will be used to help the city council as it prepares to create its next 2-year budget cycle later this month. General fund expenditures are estimated at $20 million for 2012-2014.

“Because of the relatively small number and the non-scientific design of the survey, there are limits on our ability to draw significant conclusions or extrapolate from these results to the feelings of the whole community,” said Interim Assistant City Manager Colin Tudor. “All of the comments and the statistics should be viewed as a form of public comment, not as a scientific survey we can draw a whole lot of conclusions from.”

A main topic of discussion centered on the use of city-issued bonds. Overall, online participants were not in favor of any city-issued bonds during the next budget cycle.

“With the cost of everything rising I think it would be irresponsible of the city to ask for any more money from its citizens,” one resident posed in an online comment. “We all need to cut back and make due with what we have.”

See our complete story in the Wednesday edition.

–Beth Hartnett

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