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City leaders waffle on budget

Matt Westerhold • Mar 23, 2010 at 6:28 PM

City commissioner Pervis Brown Jr. is the wild card on city commission, and ex-officio Mayor Craig Stahl needs to speak his truth about city finances. He knows how distressed the revenue is and commission is in the process of approving the 2009 budget by digging the hole in which it will bury its head.

And that won't be at the beach at Lions Park.

Commissioners Dave Waddington and Dan Kaman continue spoke out again at Monday's commission meeting as Stahl waffled and the balance of commission opted to base their budgetary decision on what they believe is in the best interests of their constituents — the unions.

Anyone who ever has talked with me about unions knows my intense, almost bizarre, as it were, affection and gratitude for all the good things in life the labor movement made possible. The United Auto Workers, the United Steelworkers and all the other labor organizations created life as we knew it for more than six decades.

That was then, and this is now. The unions will continue to lead and fight for workers, but the city's municipal unions representing city employees must understand that even the UAW, the most powerful union on the planet, took deep concessions a few years back and continues to work with management in an effort to save the industry.

The city's union leaders, and government union teams across the region must realize the city, and local government are fighting for survival and the path ahead does not include new taxes. It also should not include any pay raises.

The blood of the labor movement flows through commissioners Julie Farrar, Brett Fuqua and Bob Warner. That's a good thing, but all three must stop the blind, knee-jerk reaction to this crisis by thinking up new ways to tax residents and businesses. End the madness. Waddington said it very clearly at Monday's city commission meeting.

"I will not support any new taxes," the big guy said.

Thank you Dave, and Dan, who called for serious review of city operations toward the goal of better service and improvedefficiencies. Toward the cuts that will inevitably be needed.

When they declared their intention -- to effectively spend down the city's reserve fund by $1 million without any plan to cut expenses (about one-third of the total) -- Farrar, Fuqua and Warner appeared to land firmly on a new tax solution. Stahl just waffled.

But the affable mayor knows the crisis stage the city faces, and it's time he acknowledges the dead-on correct course Waddington and Kaman pledged on city finances.

Julie, Brett and Bob will go down in flames protecting the bureaucracy at the expense of all else. Fuqua even suggested cutting back services but not employees.

Do less with more, and make sure to hit taxpayers up for more money.

Give us a break.

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