If you've got ideas for spending the city's money next year, now is the time to speak up.
Tuesday night, Lawrence city commissioners will conduct their first public hearing for the city's 1999 operating budget. The meeting starts at 6:35 p.m. at city hall, Sixth and Massachusetts.
City staffers are still crunching department proposals and community needs before drafting a proposed budget, to be voted on later this summer. Tuesday's hearing is a chance for members of the public to make their pitches before the process moves too far along.
``This way we can research it ahead of time,'' City Manager Mike Wildgen said. ``It's an opportunity for the public.''
This year's budget outlines $74 million in spending plans, covering everything from administrative expenses to utility projects. Also included are public transportation services, police protection, drainage projects and other municipal services.
In preparing for this summer's budget discussions, commissioners already have asked staffers to prepare a variety of budget options, including possibilities for cutting property taxes.
Commissioners are scheduled to conduct at least one more public hearing before the budget is adopted. The final budget is scheduled to be sent to the Douglas County clerk Aug. 21.
-- Mark Fagan's phone message number is 832-7188. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.