What's one and one and one and one and one and one and one and one and one and one? If you've lost count, you're in good company with the Wichita City Council.

As usual, Ray Trail, the city's finance director, wrote a long letter outlining and introducing the budget proposal for 2004-05 to the council. But this year, he decided to make things a little more interesting by including a couple of dozen quotes, such as "one and one and one," from "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland," the classic children's book by Lewis Carroll.

"Most of the budget letters that I read--I'm not trying to make this sound critical, but they're kind of boring," says Trail. "This year, Alice in Wonderland seemed to fit the idea of how surreal all our fiscal problems have gotten to be."

The city started the year about $8 million short, largely because of $6 million the state cut from shared revenue accounts. Trail's letter highlights this point by quoting Carroll: "The more there is of mine, the less there is of yours."

The literary quotes were well received by local elected officials. Trail, who has quoted Shakespeare in previous budget letters, says he already has a source in mind if the next budget is particularly hellish: Dante's Inferno.