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Citizens encouraged to share views at upcoming budget meetings

City Manager Rich Conrad will present the Preliminary 2011-2012 Budget to the City Council at the next regular Council meeting on Monday, Oct. 4, at 7 p.m. Citizens are invited to attend public budget hearings throughout October and November and provide their input.

“The Preliminary 2011-2012 Budget reflects current economic realities which have affected Mercer Island despite careful financial planning," Conrad said. "The city will present a budget on Monday that is 9 percent smaller than the general fund budget in 2008-2010. While we are fortunate to be able to maintain essential city functions like public safety, we will have to reduce or eliminate some discretionary programs to balance the budget.”

State law requires Washington cities to adopt a balanced budget. The City of Mercer Island develops a budget on a biennial basis, or every two years.

With revenues on the decline, the city has already instituted a number of cost-saving measures, including eliminating cost of living adjustments for all employees in 2010, delaying market-based raises and leaving a number of positions vacant.

In addition to these cuts, the city is proposing a number of service reductions that will affect the areas of trail, tree and parks maintenance; transportation planning; community arts and recreation programs and events; human services and other areas.

City Council meetings are open public meetings that offer citizens the opportunity to partake in the budget process by sharing their opinions and insight. Citizens are invited to attend Council meetings and the public budget hearings scheduled throughout October and November.

City of Mercer Island budget meeting schedule:

· Oct. 4: Regular Council Meeting, 7 p.m.

· Oct. 18: Regular Council Meeting, 7 p.m.

· Oct. 25: Special Council Meeting, 6 p.m.

· Nov. 1: Regular Council Meeting, 7 p.m.

· Nov. 15: Regular Council Meeting, 7 p.m.

· Dec. 6: Regular Council Meeting, 7 p.m.

All meetings will take place in the Council Chambers in City Hall, located at 9611 S.E. 36th Street. For more details and to view budget documents, visit www.mercergov.org/budget. The Preliminary 2011-2012 Budget will be available online on Wednesday, Oct. 6.

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