Safer, cleaner, greener. Those three words sum up Mayor Sheila Dixon's plans to improve Baltimore. She also has set her sights on ending homelessness here, finding summer jobs for teens and redeveloping vacant houses faster. Those have been her priorities, and Baltimore's $2.1 billion operating budget reflects them. Do Baltimoreans share the same concerns? Are their tax dollars well spent?
City officials have decided to find out from the citizens they serve. A citywide poll, the first in what is expected to be an annual review, would help assess the quality of city services and better determine what residents want. Twice-a-week trash pickup, or reduce it to once a week and spend the savings on summer jobs for kids? Are city parks popular, or do citizens prefer better recreation centers? The University of Baltimore has been hired to conduct the survey at a cost of $60,000. The results, due in May, should help shape the next fiscal year's budget.
It's a worthy effort that also will expand the chorus of voices city officials routinely hear from.
But since only 1,800 city residents will be polled, Baltimoreans who want to weigh in now with their views should e-mail us at email@example.com with the word "poll" in the subject line. We'll publish a sampling of your letters. So, what are your priorities for the city?