Thursday, July 5, 2007

Sister City Opportunities

A delegation of six from the city of Poggio a Caiano and the region of Prato, Italy are visiting Charlottesville. I thoroughly enjoyed attending the reception on July 3, 2007 and getting to chat (in English - I only know a few words of Italian) with some of the visitors.

It was a treat to hear Sheri Iachetta singing in both English and Italian (accompanied on the accordion by Matty Metcalfe) for the occasion so all had an opportunity to sing along.

I believe cultural and social events with our sister cities are terrific, but there are also some great opportunities for learning much more from each other. One thought I have been exploring, in light of many people in Charlottesville expressing concerns about our city budget, is to compare the sources of revenue and the expenditures for the current budgets of all of our sister cities (Poggio a Caiano, Besancon, Pleven, Charlottesville). I am curious to see what differences and similarities exist among the revenues and expenses for the four cities. Perhaps we all can get some ideas from each other and develop better budgeting practices in the future.

Being a candidate for city council is taking much of my time of late, but I would love to collect this data and prepare a simple comparison among the four budgets - and see how they address the vision statement for each city. Simple pie-charts for each budget might provide interesting insights and opportunities. Perhaps one of you readers of this blog - with similar interest and some available time - might be interested in exploring something like this and sharing it with us all. As a future council member, I would certainly encourage the city staff to explore the budget strategies of our sister cities and determine if we can benefit from their experience and creativity.

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