In St. Petersburg, representatives of the People’s Budget Review stood on the steps of City Hall alongside several City Councilmembers to encourage even more public participation in the polling process the organization does—mostly focused on budgetary issues and priorities affecting the city. To participate: St Petersburg residents are encouraged to visit their website.
Councilmember Charlie Gerdes took to the podium and publicly credited the People’s Budget Review for encouraging the city to look at adding revenue streams to help balance the city’s budget. Survey results indicated that citizens were not pleased with the idea of more cuts, especially if it might reduce services and the quality of living St. Petersburg residents have come to enjoy.
More than 4,000 St. Petersburg residents have participated in People’s Budget review so far, and both the city and the organization are hoping for even more participation from even more residents.
Mayor Bill Foster said, “[The People’s Budget Review] is the most beneficial, transparent process on gathering public input and the most well-organized citizen budget I have seen over the years. They are effective, and they work towards gathering the most diverse populations involved. A chorus singing in harmony versus solo voices sometimes make the choir better.”
A question buzzing around St. Pete these days is why should the citizens bother participating in a poll like this when the city ignored the petitions from thousands of citizens wanting to vote on the Pier on the November ballot. According to the People’s Budget Review, that answer is singular, “The opportunity to speak out on the petition for the Pier may not have worked out like you wanted, but that’s no reason to take the ball and go home.”
Councilmember Gerdes was clear stating that information gleaned from the People’s Budget Review Polls “put the city on a new course towards looking at additional revenue streams for the city. Prior to that, we were only looking at cuts,” said Gerdes. “We are listening, and we want public input.”
Councilmembers joining the People’s Budget Review on the steps of City Hall included Chair Leslie Curran, Charlie Gerdes, Karl Nurse, Steve Kornell and Jeff Danner.