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About 65 Pocket and Greenhaven residents gathered Thursday night to learn about current city issues. City staffers briefed the citizens on the city budget, green waste pick-up services and other topics during the community meeting, which was organized by City Councilman Darrell Fong.
Attendees were fully engaged throughout the meeting, asking plenty of questions. It began at 6:30 p.m. and by 8:30 p.m. few had left John F. Kennedy High School on Gloria Drive.
City Finance Director Leyne Milstein presented information to the group about the city’s $35-$40 million budget gap for the 2011/2012 fiscal year.
She noted that the $35-$40 million represents about 20 percent of the net general fund, which means the city expects to cut its budget by that percentage.
Resident Bob Pecora asked Milstein about ways the city could bolster the economy.
“We need to take the initiative ourselves and try to put measures into place that will help us to grow the value of our economy locally,” Milstein responded.
The issue of trash pick-up was brought up later in the evening. Resident Roger Fong asked Utilities Department spokeswoman Jessica Hess about problems with his loose-in-the-street green waste pick-up.
The city uses two green waste pick-up systems – green waste is picked up in the street or in containers. The Utilities Department is in favor of the container system, which it says is more affordable.
Roger Fong said that he pays more for his loose-in-the-street pick-up. But his neighbors, who have containers, still put their green waste in the street, he said.
“My neighbors don’t seem to understand ... I always pay my fee and they don’t.”
Hess said the department is going to soon take action on that issue.
The meeting covered the work of various city departments. But the city’s budget crisis was a central theme of the meeting.
Darrell Fong told his constituents that he wanted them to help him with budget decisions on city services.
“I’m going to get you involved to decide what services are important to you,” Fong told the group.
Kathleen Haley is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press.