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Community Budget Priorities Meetings Continue:

Residents once again got a chance to give input to City of Santa Monica officials on City budget priorities for 2009-2010 at two additional meetings last month.

Both meetings began with a presentation by City Manager P. Lamont Ewell on the City’s economic outlook. Ewell noted that Santa Monica is in a much better position than most cities in the country due to its “diversified economy,” and sound economic management. The November 17 meeting focused on the Wilshire-Montana neighborhood while the November 24 meeting concentrated on the North of Montana neighborhood.

The priorities discussed by the Wilshire and Montana residents were mostly citywide. They were interested in seeing a number of improvements from the Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD), including the SMPD website being updated more frequently regarding police activity. They also expressed the desire to see SMPD improve their response times, and give more attention to double parking and speeding in their neighborhood.

Wilshire-Montana residents also want the City to build more fire stations and have the City restore their own fire dispatch service. They also requested more heart defibrillatorsbe placed around the City.

Big Blue Bus (BBB) service also came up at the November 17 meeting. Residents would like the BBB to increase their mini blue bus service in their neighborhood and increase the frequency of the buses running on 4th Street.

Residents from North of Montana were interesting in seeing a street beautification program developed for Montana Avenue and improved parking on Alta.

Residents from this area also mentioned several citywide priorities. They requested that the City: make taxi coupons available to seniors; continue to make their annual contribution to the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, and create a Tree Commission. They also asked the City to standardize the way residents give input on municipal customer service, and also that priority be given to improving parking and traffic flow citywide.

Other suggestions on community priorities will come from the City’s boards and commissions, and the January 27 Council discussion of priorities. The Council will then hold a series of budget workshops in May. These workshops will be followed by the Council adoption of the final budget on June 16, 2009.

Those who were unable to attend the meetings can still give input at the City’s website smgov.net by clicking on the City Budget Suggestions link or by emailing budget@smgov.net.

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