Area governments, school districts and service agencies all must come to terms with this reality: Each must make do with less.
School districts already know this too well after years of unfunded state and federal mandates, decreased federal and state funding and a reluctance, if not an absolute refusal, by taxpayers to approve new revenue levies. School administrators found ways to pare back operating budgets while passionately protecting the most important services they provide children.
Sandusky City Manager Mike Will saw the writing on the wall and knows it will get worse before it gets better. Shortly after he was named to the post in 2004, he ordered each department head to cut back expectations because operating budgets for each one would be slashed in the coming years.
Cuts in funding require cuts in services, and law enforcement agencies face important challenges equal to those faced by school leaders. To serve and protect, but with less. The most important decisions, then, are how to maintain quality and where to shift the operating budget.
Some law enforcement leaders claim they cannot get the job done without more money, and they just don't seem to understand there is no other choice. That's not what we're hearing, however, from Sandusky's new police chief.
Chief Kim Nuesse's proposed budget for 2007 includes a decrease in funding of almost $434,000, more than 10 percent under the 2006 funding levels. But the proposed budget does not include drastic manpower cuts. Nuesse told City Commissioners last week she believed three of the four open positions within the department could be filled if some funding is shifted from the reserve officers unit to the patrol payroll.
Putting funds where they best serve residents is smart management.
Mike Will was right to order the cuts, and Nuesse is right to shift the funding.