Throughout his time in office, Mayor Mitch Landrieu has held town hall meetings every year in each City Council district as his administration prepared its budget for the coming year.
Those meetings, which could draw hundreds of citizens, provided a rare opportunity for the general public to address the mayor directly on almost any topic.
But this year, with the budget-making schedule compressed, those five meetings will be replaced with two conference calls this week. While still open to the public, the calls will provide a more controlled environment.
And with the unveiling of the spending plan just a couple of weeks away, it remains to be seen whether any feedback from the calls will make its way into the final document.
In the past, Landrieu, like previous mayors, presented his budget in the fall, generally in mid-October in recent years. However, with the new schedule for municipal elections placing the primary this year on Oct. 14, the term-limited Landrieu will present his final budget on July 31.
Administration officials have said the decision to move up the schedule was aimed at preventing the budget from becoming a political football during the elections.
The City Council has not announced its schedule for reviewing and adopting the 2018 budget, but it apparently intends to complete the process before the primary, in which most of the members are candidates for their current or higher offices. The deadline for adopting a budget is Dec. 1.
It has never been clear how much the community meetings actually affected the spending plan the administration presented each year, but the shortened budget schedule will likely make any changes even more difficult.
The conference call focused on council Districts A, B and C will start at 6 p.m. Tuesday. Residents of Districts D and E will have their call at 5 p.m. Wednesday.
Those interested in listening or participating can sign up at vekeo.com/mayorlandrieu/ to get a call when the event starts that will connect them to the conference call. The site will also allow people to stream the call through their browser, according to the administration.
Participants will be able to ask questions or provide comments by dialing *3 while on the call or through a form on the website, according to the city.