On Monday night, a crowd of Budget Delegates gathered in the Sullivan Chamber at City Hall to meet with department representatives for the first time.
City staff from the Arts Council, Community Development, Conservation Commission, Electrical, Human Services, IT, Library, Open Space Committee/Executive, Public Works, and Traffic, Parking & Transportation departments were stationed at different tables around the room.
Angela, one of our Budget Analysts, commented, "This looks like department speed dating."
Essentially, it was.
Above: Budget Delegates meet with representatives from the Open Space Committee/Executive and the Conservation Commission.
Although we didn't ring bells to keep participants moving, Budget Delegates rotated around the room and conversations flowed. Both Delegates and department staff took copious notes, shared information, and asked and answered questions.
For example, Delegates from the Culture & Community Facilities committee got a chance to ask the Director of the Council on Aging about proposed improvements to Cambridge's two senior centers. Volunteers on the Streets, Sidewalks & Transit committee got right to business with the Traffic department in the back corner. And other Delegates talked with the City Electrician about lighting projects or consulted with the Deputy Director of the Library about equipment needs at the various library branches.
At this first consultation, Delegates asked broader questions about how the City plans for different types of work and projects, what projects are currently in the pipeline, and what types of projects are not eligible for capital funding. We're planning a second session in mid-October, at which time Delegates will have more specific questions about specific projects their committees would like to move forward.
When asked, "Would you like to go on a second date with this department?", let's hope that the Delegates say yes.