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We find many disturbing things in the City Manager’s proposed budget for the coming fiscal year, which begins on Jan. 1, 2019. We have questions and observations.
Residents who study it may feel they are in a financial squeeze not entirely of their own making. There is some truth to this. State reimbursements are projected to be somewhat lower, and municipalities share that burden. When federal funding for capital projects ebbs, the City kicks in the money.
But there are also some Catch-22s: When we conserve water – as we are urged, as responsible residents, to do – revenues from our water sales decline. When we put the proper amount of money into a parking meter, the City reaps less money from parking fines. When we keep our yards free of high weeds and debris, the City collects fewer fines from violations of property standards.
Many residents who wish to participate in the budget process may feel they have been thrown into a fighting ring. Who really thinks it is reasonable to pit one aspect of our quality of life against another? Or try to balance the safety of the community against the support for frail or at-risk residents?
We have other questions as well:
Are services such as public health education and victim services in fact duplicated elsewhere in the City?
Why dismantle the Youth and Young Adult Division, which is working harmoniously and providing concrete benefits for the community as a whole?
Is the potential revenue gained or saved from proposals such as eliminating the cultural arts funding and administration and doubling parking fees really worth the cost to the City? Is doubling the parking a measure that will eventually eviscerate our businesses because it will repel potential customers?
Why are the arts not considered a vital weft in the fabric of this community?
How many of these cuts are being proposed so the City can pay legal fees in the James Park environmental litigation and pay the cost of the new Robert Crown Center?
In a survey earlier this year, the community ranked the top 10 programs it wished to preserve, yet many of them are now on the chopping block.
A budget is said to be a reflection of values. This budget seems to reflect disdain. One is reminded of the message left by the dolphins when they exited Planet Earth in the fourth book in Douglas Adams’s “So Long, And Thanks for All the Fish.”
As it stands, we believe this budget is unacceptable.