If you care about New Rochelle’s future, please read this document.

Back in January, the City appointed a volunteer, non-partisan committee, called the Citizens Panel on Sustainable Budgets. The Panel was given unprecedented access to municipal information, encouraged to engage in critical inquiry, and tasked with making independent recommendations for meeting New Rochelle’s fiscal challenges. The volunteers, who were drawn from each of New Rochelle’s council districts, met consistently for about six months and devoted untold hours to exploring options of every kind. Yesterday, in a public session of the City Council, the Panel presented its report for the first time.

I am still digesting the Panel’s recommendations and have not made any decisions about which proposals to support. But it is not too soon for me to call the report a blockbuster … one that addresses the City’s problems with remarkable candor and thoroughness, and that offers potential solutions with persuasive clarity.

To be sure, no one is going to confuse a budget report with a suspense novel — the Panel’s recommendations are long, detailed, and chock full of statistics. But please do not let that deter you from reading, because the document represents an extraordinary contribution of time, energy and experience, and it has the potential to significantly shape a community-wide debate about our future.

If you have time to examine only one document about civic affairs, make it this one. And then please also share with me your thoughts about the Panel’s conclusions and suggestions.