“I think one of the main concerns that people showed at these meetings was over the financial issues of the city,” Torres said. “At these town meetings, people saw where we were coming from and that we needed to keep the [city’s credit] rating up as we tried to make it the least painful to the taxpayers. One of the reasons that we went toward deficit financing was because we saw that folks needed [us] to spread the debt, especially the retired folks. All of my neighbors who are retired felt the same way, and said we would prefer that you spread this debt over time.”
Still, Torres described the meetings as “positive,” and said they have helped council members to better gauge residents’ concerns. The Lindell School meeting, for example, led to last Sunday’s Screw the Boardwalk initiative, with residents working alongside city crews to repair broken and loose boards.
Additionally, Torres said, concerns about traffic safety and other issues on Irish Day led the city to reduce the speed limit from 30 mph to 15 mph in the president streets last month, and to reach an agreement with the Ancient Order of Hibernians and bar owners to scale back event hours on Irish Day.
Torres said that it was too early to say when and where the next meeting would be. “We’re looking at key places — the North Park area, the Westholme area and the Canals,” he said. “We’re putting together ideas.”