Burgers, beers and budget talk with St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter

Brews and burgers with a side of budget talks are on the menu at some St. Paul establishments this week, as part of Mayor Melvin Carter’s "Our City, Our Budget" series. 

“Our goal is to make sure that every resident of our city knows that they are our city's owners and this is our city to run together,” Carter said.

The event features a presentation by city officials and an interactive budget game where residents figure out how to close a budget gap while maintaining city services.

“I found this exercise very challenging,” said Matt Gray, who attended an event at Burger Moe’s. “With every option that is available, there are actual people who are going to be affected by every single one of these.”

Mayor Carter sparked conversation about city spending in recent days after he canceled the city's 4th of July fireworks display and questioned the need for 50 new police officers.

“We have an enormous amount of needs from street maintenance to our recreation centers and  libraries, to our first responders, and we have to make the balanced investments to make sure we are building a whole community,” he said.

The residents who attended the events said they have a new appreciation for the difficulty of the process.

“I think it’s incredibly naive if anyone thinks it's an easy job,” said Jennifer Schellenberg, who attended the event at Burger Moe’s. “It is really powerful to have the programs that would need to be cut right in front of you and the choices being made by you.”

The series resumes Thursday at 4:30 p.m. at Lake Monster Brewery, with more events the following week. The Mayor’s budget address is set for August 9th.