Stephenville citizens, get out your pen and paper and begin making a wish list.

As city councilors and city staff prepare to hunker down and devise the city’s annual budget, local elected officials are seeking residents’ requests for anything and everything that could possibly be included in the budget.

“That’s what we’re here for - we’re elected to represent the citizens, and what better way to listen to them than to provide an open forum for them to submit their requests?” said Mayor Nancy Hunter. “The budget is serious business and we absolutely take the citizens’ suggestions with 100 percent consideration when possible.”

Stephenville citizens have until Friday, May 30, to submit their written requests for the city budget for fiscal year 2008-09. Residents are asked to mail or bring their requests and suggestions to City Hall, 298 W. Washington St., or email them to City Secretary Cindy Stafford at cstafford@ci.stephenville.tx.us.

The city council has considered citizen input as part of the budgetary process over the past several years during the budget work sessions, said Stafford, who likens the requests to “wish lists” from residents.

City councilors will hold a public hearing at its regular business meeting on Tuesday, June 3, to hear any additional requests, suggestions or comments concerning the city’s budget. Additional budget work sessions are also scheduled for the week of Aug. 11.

Hunter, who acknowledged that “everyone wants a slice of the pie,” including city departments and residents who will be affected, added that the input provided by citizens can also help the council compile priority lists for future fiscal years.

“The reason we seek citizens’ requests is so we can find out what’s important to the people in the community,” said Hunter. “It’s not just about what’s important to us (council), but we have to know what’s important to the residents to be able to offer fair representation.”

The mayor admits that not all of the requests will be honored, but that “some are relatively affordable and the larger requests are something we can strive to achieve or make possible in the future.”

“We may not be able to fit it in the budget the first year but through careful planning we can hopefully make it happen,” said Hunter.

Walter Wood, finance director for the city, said that when the budget is finalized it will denote whether or not the item originated from city staff or as a citizen request.

Examples from previous years included such suggestions as illuminating the walking trail in the city park, the construction of sidewalks, and the installation of irrigation along River North Boulevard.

One such request that came from a citizen is currently under construction in Stephenville City Park, said Wood.

“One resident wanted the city to build a new restroom in the park, which we are doing this year.”

Hunter said that in addition to a resident’s request, it is helpful to include supporting reasons for the budgetary suggestion. Citizens are asked to explain their requests and provide reasons why the council should take their suggestion into consideration.

For more information about how to provide input for next year’s city budget, citizens may contact Walter Wood at 918-1211 or Cindy Stafford at 918-1212.