They really should serve tea and biscuits for these annual chitchats. Every year the city’s department heads sit down one at a time with the council to review their budgets. Supposedly, this is the opportunity for the council to bring out the rubber hoses and the red pencils, challenge every expenditure, and cross out every other budget line.
But, it never happens like that. After all, the council are kindly folk who don’t don’t want to threaten people’ s jobs or take away city services.
They are also sympathetic to the city’s taxpayers, and they’d LIKE to make cuts, they really would, and they really try. The conversations usually go something like:
Councilmember X: So, uh this expense here, is there any way to, . . . you know, . . . . sort of, “reduce” it?
Department Head Y: No, not at all, that’s the cheapest cost possible and its a service citizens enjoy and expect. Of course, we COULD fire Little Nell, the one with rickets and the cute puppy . . .
Councilmember X: No, no, no, no! Thank you and your staff for the wonderful work you do.
Meanwhile, our eyes were rolling so much we got dizzy. As we’ve seen in two weeks of budget review, every department’s budget proposal is now written to the tune of the city’s Strategic Plan and Council Priorities. So, each introduction uses buzz words from the Plan Thus, we learn how the mission of each department, by golly, just happens to perfectly dovetail with the city’s goals of “sustainability, “livable community,” and “engaged, responsive, and service oriented government.” It’s . . . just . . . AMAZING how simpatico the department heads and the council turn out to be. OMG!
Shall we all roll our eyes together, Dear Readers? Don’t attempt it if you’ve been drinking. Oops. See what I mean?
The pool is going under for the second time, and the council is reluctantly playing lifeguard. The county funding that got the Piney Branch pool operating and open to the public is ending in June and the county council, facing severe budget shortfalls, is not eager to spend any more money on it.
The council, thoroughly annoyed, voted April 20th to “find $10,000 in our budget that isn’t there,” as Mayor Bruce Williams put it, to keep the pool open. The county council had asked for such a gesture, but as councilmembers Terry Seamens and Josh Wright noted, the county does not ask other communities to pass the hat to keep their aquatic centers open.