As Sandusky City Commissioners turn their attention to the 2014 budget, it's apparent the substantial loss of state and federal funds will make budget juggling more difficult.
Projections suggest a million dollar deficit in the operating budget — the money which keeps city services running on a day-to-day basis. This includes the fire and police departments, water treatment services, mechanics and maintenance workers and clerical and records departments, parks and recreation services, etc. It also includes Sandusky's greenhouse operations.
Two of the incoming commissioners have suggested they would favor, or at least consider, pruning horticultural services. When you weigh its benefits against the necessities like safety service operations, it seems like a simple choice to make.
What we're asking is that commissioners don't automatically make the simple choice. Dig around, look for places that can use a little trimming. Sandusky has much to be proud of, but the most obvious to outside observers are the parks. They project pride in our city and a dedication to quality of life for residents. The area from the Merry-Go-Round Museum to the Follett House Museum is Sandusky's sweet spot, where nature and history strut their stuff.
It's worth mentioning the knowledgeable and dedicated park workers. They take no shortcuts in making the most of the downtown area. In addition, they tend to various other parks in the city — both tranquil and active. The greenhouse itself is an educational resource for the community. Community volunteers have stepped up to help out, but the dedicated union employees are not only giving of themselves 40 hours weekly, but they are paying back to the city in the form of income tax.
If services were to be outsourced, the challenge would be to find qualified services within the city for a project with the scope of Sandusky's needs. The qualified major players in the area are located outside the city.
We know something has to be done to balance the city's budget and we know whichever cuts are made some people will be unhappy. We just beseech the commissioners to look at every possibility and every line item on the books before they decide what is cut.
Help Sandusky keep its most visible display of pride.