Several dozen Evanstonians spent their Saturday morning at the Levy Center getting a briefing on the city’s $8 million budget gap for next year.

Finance Director Marty Lyons, with a chart showing the projected gap between city revenue and expenditures.

“This is the last time we’ll be talking at you,” City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz said as the meeting ended — promising that, starting with Thursday night’s budget workshop at the Robert Crown Center, the focus will turn to getting ideas for budget cuts and improved service efficiencies from the public.

But even at the first session there was some time for residents to break into small groups and come up with some preliminary questions about the budget.

Brainstorming budget ideas.

Some of the ideas people suggested have been added to our new Evanston budget ideas forum. You can add your own ideas and comment on existing ones there as the budget debate progresses.

And unlike with the city workshops, you don’t have to have been there for the first session to actively participate in the debate online.

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz.

Bobkiewicz assured workshop participants that he’s serious about responding to the ideas citizens present and incorporating many of them into the proposed budget he will submit to the City Council at the end of the year.

“There’ll be alist of everything you come up with,” Bobkiewicz said, “and I’ll have a response to everything — either here’s where it’s included in the budget, or here’s why it hasn’t been included.”

Follow our ongoing coverage of the Evanston Budget debate, or get a feed of the coverage for your news reader.

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Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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