If Portland Councilor David Marshall is right — and he almost certainly is — “people will start seeing what a smaller government looks like” as the city (and the state) begin work on their budgets for the coming fiscal year.

That’s because not only is aid from the federal government likely to decline as the stimulus program tapers off, but state revenue sharing and aid to schools are endangered due to continuing shortfalls in revenues taken in by Augusta.

That is going to be one of the main themes as members of the City Council and other officials spread out across the city over the next two weeks for their annual series of district meetings with citizens.

The series of five meetings, which begins tonight in District 1 and continues through Nov. 23, will take up such topics as waterfront zoning and infrastructure issues such as sewer and stormwater diversion projects.

But the budget will provide the main focus, as councilors continue to promise not to increase taxes.

If that pledge holds, then program cuts are certain to be offered as the only other means to balance the budget.

As in previous years, these neighbood meetings offer residents the chance to offer their views on these and other issues to their district councilor and the mayor, along with staff from the various departments.

A complete list of meeting times and places is available at the city’s website, www.portlandmaine.gov.

If you want to say what programs could be let go and which ones should be kept, this is your chance. Don’t miss it.