How would you slash $70 million from the city budget?

Go ahead. Pretend you're Mayor John Hickenlooper. It's your job to cut $70 million from the 2010 city budget proposal and you've got a list of chopping-block contenders in front of you. Do you cut back on watering the grass in city parks? Charge more for rec-center memberships? Reduce the programming on Denver 8?

A new survey on the city's website asks Denverites how they'd handle slashing that $70 mil. The survey is quick and easy. It starts out by asking whether current economic conditions have affected survey-takers' personal spending habits, perhaps in an attempt to get them to realize that the city is just like us! It has a checkbook! It needs to balance it!

The survey further inquires whether participants use city rec centers or libraries before presenting a menu of cost-cutting options and asking them to pick their top five. In addition to the ones mentioned above, the options include less street maintenance (a savings of $1 million), implementing a user fee for trash collection (a boost of $20 million) and reducing the hours of Denver's 311 customer-service line (a savings of up to $145,000).

If you're not into the whole Internet thing, the mayor will also hold a series of community meetings where actual people will sit in an actual room and talk about the budget face-to-face. The next meeting is at 6 p.m. tonight at the Ashbury Event Center, 3011 Vallejo Street.

But sitting in the comfort of your office or home, perhaps in your pajamas, and pretending you're the mayor seems like a lot more fun. After all, I'll bet your last name isn't as as cool as Hickenlooper. You don't have your own documentary. And in real life, it's not your voice that welcomes travelers at DIA to the lovely city of Denver, is it? Didn't think so.

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Melanie Asmar is a staff writer for Westword. She joined the paper in 2009 and has won awards for her stories about education, immigration and epic legal battles. Got a tip? She'd love to hear it.
Contact: Melanie Asmar

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