City Council is going on the road this year to solicit public opinion on the city's finances, starting with the year's first budget hearing, slated for the St. John's AME Church on 71st Street in Southwest Philadelphia.

That hearing has been set for March 14 at 6 p.m. Additional community gatherings will be scheduled shortly.

The hearings would fulfill new Council President Darrell L. Clarke's pledge to get his colleagues out of City Hall and more engaged with the public. Clarke said today that "the added perspective these neighborhood hearings provide will be extremely valuable as we move through the 2013 budget schedule."

Council also today unveiled the rest of its spring schedule of budget hearings, beginning March 14 and stretching through May 9. The School District of Philadelphia, which last year came to Council and begged for help to close a massive funding shortfall, is slated to appear on May 8. Those hearings are all held in Council chambers at City Hall.

Additional times for the public to comment at City Hall have been scheduled for April 11, May 2 and May 7. Public comment on the school district budget has been set for May 9. Written testimony also can be submitted at any time to Chief Clerk of Council Michael Decker.

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