St. Paul faces a budget deficit of $9.6 million in 2015, Mayor Chris Coleman said Wednesday.
The mayor, who will offer his recommendations next month on how to close that gap, announced that he will host four public meetings in the next few weeks to get feedback on residents' funding priorities. People also will be able to share their thoughts online.
"It is critically important that we make it as easy as possible for St. Paul residents to participate in discussions about our investment priorities," said Coleman, in a statement released by his office.
The mayor said that he will deliver his annual budget address at noon Aug. 13 at the Schmidt Artist Lofts, the recently finished W. 7th Street project that transformed an old brewery with the help of public money into housing for artists with low to moderate incomes.
It won't be clear until then whether Coleman will seek a property tax hike to erase the deficit.
In the meantime, he has asked each city department to look for ways to cut costs while preserving essential services.
Last August, the mayor proposed no increase in this year's tax levy, saying that additional state aid had made it possible for St. Paul to close an $11.5 million gap without additional tax revenues.
It was only the second time in eight years that Coleman did not seek a higher tax levy. For most of his time in office, Coleman and the City Council have raised the levy to cover budget shortfalls caused by a tight economy and declining government aid.
Using Coleman's budget proposal, the City Council will have until the end of the year to agree on a final budget.
Residents who want to submit their ideas are welcome to visit the city website — www.stpaul.gov — or go to Twitter, using the hashtag #stpaulbudget.