A hotline for people in Manchester to offer suggestions on how the council should spend its £468m budget received one phone call in a month.
The information was reproduced in the town hall newsletter
Thousands of leaflets were sent out to residents with a phone number, e-mail and postal address.
In addition to the solitary call, the city council received six letters and 21 e-mails in the month-long exercise.
Council bosses admitted disappointment at the response but said it was still an important consultation.
About 2,000 copies of a leaflet with contact information were printed and sent to community centres and libraries between Christmas and New Year.
It was also reproduced in Manchester People, the town hall newspaper delivered to 200,000 households in the city. The consultation finished on 31 January.
Simon Ashley, leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition, said the authority did not make it easy enough for people to respond.
"If the council had made it simple and said, 'Look, we want to spend X million there, and we want to cut spending there,' then I think people will probably have responded better than they have done.
"But it wasn't easy to respond to the consultation and to be honest the council really don't care about that kind of thing anyway."
Councillor Bernard Priest, Manchester City Council's executive member for finance, denied the consultation was a waste of time.
He said: "It is always disappointing if there is a limited response to this type of consultation, but it's really important to give taxpayers a chance to let us know their views on how their money is spent.
"We are constantly looking for ways to make it easier for people to communicate with us and the views we receive are given careful consideration.
"I am sure that if people did not believe that the services they receive offer good value for money, they would be very quick to let us know."
Manchester City Council will receive £468m for the financial year 2008/9 to serve its population of about 442,000 people.