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City schedules financial planning sessions

By Jenny Johnson –
City council is looking for solutions to  a potential $2 million budget shortfall for the 2014-15 fiscal year. They have planned two financial visioning sessions that will be led by Winchester Group, the city’s consulting firm.
The first one will be from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Feb. 1 at the Wayne Public Library. The second one will be from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Feb. 8 at the Wayne Community Center.
The goal of these sessions is to create a budget task force made up of city officials while including the ideas and suggestions of residents, business owners and other community stakeholders.
Session one will focus on reviewing the current budget and projecting a five-year budget plan.
“You have a lot of passionate residents” said Lisa Nocerini of WCG. “Use your assets- your residents and businesses. These will be open discussions and nothing is a bad idea. We have to find solutions.”
WCG did this for Redford Township. Nocerini said they had about 60 people who committed and came to each of the sessions.
Business owners and residents will play a key role in these sessions.
“They utilize and depend on the services the city provides and need to be a part of the decision making process when it comes to looking at the bigger picture, identifying what they can live without if cuts are to be made,” Nocerini said.
“We will give you all the tools that you need,” she said. “This is not a town hall where we yell and stand up but where we ask questions and find and identify how to get the city back on track.”
Wayne resident Ron Roberts said,  “This is really encouraging. This is something we’ve been looking for a long time.”
“These are public meetings that I encourage everyone to attend. There will not be a podium to vent, but rather a classroom environment where workgroups are created and collective thought focused on the issues of revenues, expenditures and cuts are part of the outcome,” Nocerini said. “This is all about citizen input.”
Once both sessions are complete they will survey participants and will create the budget task force.
“It’s about coming together to figure out what we can do better,”  Nocerini said.
Councilman Albert Damitio said, “What we are trying to do is avoid a crisis.”
These sessions can help that, he said.
Councilwoman Susan Rowe said, “This is something I’ve been hoping for for many many years to take place.”

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