It looks as if the City Council has stolen a march on Father's Day, two Sundays hence. Between the headlines late last week and the tumult and unhappiness expressed in Council Chambers this past Monday, that adage about 'success has a thousand fathers and failure is an orphan' most definitely applies to the 2013-2014 municipal budget. Actually, municipal was not what most people were calling it the other night.
All the years that capital improvements were deferred, where only minimal infrastructure investments were made because 'times are tough and the city should wait until economic conditions improve' now look like 'the good old days.' I remember not that long ago public anger at proposed "cuts" that were actually reductions in the programmed increases for city personnel and services.
Now the city manager and our City Council are examining the probabilities not merely the possibilities, of reducing the municipal labor force and curtailing needed and necessary programs not because they (or anyone else) want to but because they have no other choice since that Powerball jackpot paid off for somebody in Florida, but not here.
I'm not being sarcastic when I suggest that, but I do wonder about the online comments and the thought processes those comments mirror of some drive-by nearly elected officials who offer in twenty words or less deathless observations on "getting the budget under control" that might actually work....if the laws of gravity were repealed and most of the previous actions of the last twenty-to thirty years could be undone. You know, small details like that.
I get to play an incredibly-smart (and sometimes smart-mouthed) person every Wednesday in our local newspaper, a role I enjoy very much (perhaps too much so) . If we've met in real life you know how hard that role is NOT for an arrogant mook like me.
But relentless realist that I am (when cornered), I can assure you that under no circumstances would I wish to be an elected local official these days. And if you doubt the sincerity of that assurance, ask everyone else in this city because most, if not all, have sworn a blood oath to that same effect.
Experience is what we get when we don't get what we want. So why are we surprised at the results of actions we take?
We elect the members of City Council to act on our behalf for an assortment of decisions, from developing strategic partnerships with potential private and public sector allies for enhanced community development and quality of life through creating an annual budget-perhaps the most high-profile and important job the Council does.
So how do you think they should choose? Better phrased, how would each of us choose? More police? More firemen? Books for our schools' libraries? New pavement for streets or a couple of thousand of line items that make up the city manager's proposed budget from which our actual budget is created?
Perhaps we could erect signs at our gateway entrances that say "Proud of our mill rate" because property owners could use more than a respite from higher and higher taxes. All of which brings me back to Father's Day and a plethora of budgets no one wants to adopt and fewer, still, wish to live with. And yet, the moment of decision is here. We all want freedom of choice, so choose.