Clovis News

Clovis seeks public input on budget crisis

Every few years, Clovis city leaders invite residents to a citizens summit to discuss ways to improve the city and examine priorities set by residents.

On Monday night -- unlike other recent summits -- residents will be asked to brainstorm about how to meet the city's most urgent needs as Clovis enters its third year of budget shortfalls.

The city held its last summit two years ago during its first year of budget cuts. Now, those cuts are the norm for Clovis and nearly every other community. The city has a $3 million budget shortfall for the coming budget year, which begins July 1.

About 75 residents are invited to the summit, but others also can participate, said John Holt, the city's assistant city manager.

The invited group consists of people from different geographic areas in the city, as well as leaders from business, unions and other groups, he said.

"We will ask them to take a look at our new economic reality," he said. "We are entering our third year of challenges with the budget ... we have fewer people providing services."

One example, he said, is parks, a department that has 40% fewer workers than four years ago. Before adding park space in the future, the city will have to make sure it would not require more staffing.

"We can't build the lush green [areas], because when we build it we can't maintain it," he said.

Budgets for the city's recreation department and senior services also have been slashed and kept alive this past year, in large part, by donations.

Mayor Harry Armstrong said the summit is an opportunity for residents to tell leaders what they want -- and ways to pay for those priorities.

"We want the community to know we have been in some trying times," he said. "We have to ask them, what they are willing to give up?"

Information and comments gathered at the summit will be presented at a council workshop later this spring to refine the city's future goals.