The city’s budget problems are being blamed on the state and federal cuts, but the city has to accept some responsibility for the lack of foresight and better planning. It is risky business to start using grants to pay salaries because the outcome can be devastating to the community when the grants no longer exist.
At this particular time, the city is in a checkmate position by not having any options open to them but to cut personnel. The city manager needs to make up her mind what needs to be cut and pass those recommendations on to the commissioners as to what she absolutely needs to keep the government functioning. The taxpayer should not have to provide a safety net (tax increase) for poor budget planning. We should not give the city any more money to spend until it realizes the consequences of future expenditures.
Employees were given raises for the next three years knowing that there would be a short fall in the budget. Why in the world would the city give out raises knowing the city was going to be a million short in the budget and may not be able to meet the obligation?
If money is committed for a project, there should be money put aside for that particular project; it is called certification of funds. A good example of when to use certification of funds is the Ferndale project. It takes on the appearance that funds were not certified at the time that the ordinance was passed. I say that because it seems the city is looking at what funds to pull the money from to cover the project. The city should not get in the practice of spending money and later try to search out other accounts to cover the expenditure.
Attaching the certification to the ordinance assures the commissioners that the finance director has approved of the expenditure and he has submitted the accounts expected to pay for the expenditure. If no certification is being provided at the time of the ordinance, the city can come up short on the funding for the various projects.
At this point in time, it shouldn’t matter what the citizens and the employees have to say about the budget situation; it is what it is and time is running out. If the city had done proper planning and monitoring of accounts throughout the year, there could have been time for choices and input but the opportunity has passed for now.
Until next week, we are in a situation that the employees and the citizens have no choice but to accept the difficult decisions that need to be made to balance the budget.