This weekend city council is holding its workshop/planning for 2011. In discussing finances, encumbrances are not always for work already ordered. Sometimes it is for work anticipated. While work can be anticipated at one time, circumstances may change the priority of doing that work. Therefore encumbrances should always be reviewed in full.
Watch for attempts to make city decisions without the input of its citizens. Watch also for decisions being made where you have no idea of the reasoning for the decision by each council member. Sometimes this can be done in closed session; sometimes just by lack of a full discussion of the decision making process.
Policies: Government staff can be helpful when considering new policies. However beware of policies pre-written by city staff as drafts for your consideration. The new policy should only be written after you give your input and then discussed by you after it is written before you give your approval.
Good decision making is critical this year. I wish the city council well.