NORTH PORT — Here’s a chance to learn about city finances, or to give an opinion about how things run.
North Port holds the first of two Community Input Budget Meetings at 6 p.m. today, a sort of City Finances 101. It allows residents to understand the budgeting process, as well as providing feedback to the city, or “what’s meant to be a conversation,” spokesperson Josh Taylor said of the public hearing in commission chambers.
A second hearing is at 1 p.m. Thursday starting. Both run about 90 minutes.
The meetings kickstart the city’s budgeting process. Like most government agencies, North Port yearly balances its budget based on expenses and anticipated income. That revenue comes from dozens of sources, not all reliable. COVID-19 ransacked county-wide shared surtaxes in 2020, for instances. But that is likely to recover this cycle.
Budgeting a city is not unlike a household, only that a $150 million in spending and some 800 workers requires more work, said Mayor Jill Luke — one of five commissioners signing off on a final budget.
Cities such as North Port run an October-September budget cycle.
“It’s another opportunity to learn how budgets work, ask questions, a more friendlier version of what (taxpayers) may not understand,” Luke said.
Tuesday and Thursday’s Community Input Budget Meetings place department staff before residents. Millage and taxes — perceptions and realities — budget cycles, Price Boulevard widening, Warm Mineral Springs’ plans, water and sewer expansions, commission spending and cutting priorities, an economic forecast, explaining government’s purpose, comparing other same-sized cities, all get discussed.
Questions submitted through North Port’s web portals are used, and a question-and-answer session follows the presentations. The city had already conducted a budget survey; 1,000 participants took part.
The meetings will be live-streamed on North Port’s virtual platform and then made available online. Live questions can be submitted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And more budget workshops and commission hearings related to spending run June through September.
“We want you to have many opportunities to be involved, have a say, and make an impact when it comes to local tax dollars,” Taylor said.