While we may just be six months into 2012, in the cycle of city life it's time to begin the budgeting process for 2013.
By the end of June, city department heads are to have their proposed budget ready with the understanding that the city council would like that budget to have a 0 percent increase.
Is this possible? I really don't know; I only know that our department heads have been clearly on a maintenance level for the three years I've been mayor. It is also clear to me that costs rise: heat, electricity, safety, just to name a few.
The topic of budgeting came to the forefront yesterday as I was reading Minnesota Cities, a magazine published by the League of Minnesota Cities. A quote, "This notion that somehow government is separate from us, even if not expressed that way, often underlies what many believe when it comes to how we should fund government services. For example, yet another article about a different city discussed how citizens responded to a survey by indicating their strong support for public safety and street expenditures, but equally strong opposition to raising taxes to pay for them."
We, every single one of us, are government. We can't have it all if we want police, fire and streets, somehow "we" have to figure out how to pay for it. As your representative, I need to know what your priorities are so when it comes to budgeting I can speak up, help to prioritize and present a budget that is fair and equitable for everyone.
When you look carefully at your tax bill, it is divided into categories that get the funds: county, city, two categories for the school district, and a special tax increment. That's five ways the total gets divided; the city having control of only one of the categories.
We are all in the same boat; you can be sure I don't want my taxes raised any more than you do. I also want to know that, as a taxpayer, "my" elected officials are doing their best to maintain budget control in a difficult economy.
With this in mind, I remind you that on the first Monday morning (8 a.m.) of each month, I am at city hall and welcome people to join me for Coffee With The Mayor. If you have ideas for budgeting, you are more than welcome; if you can't make it, call 568-5222 to set up a time to meet with me.
Remember, we all are government; and if you don't participate, you haven't earned the right to complain.
As for me, you may laugh, but I keep recycling my idea of turning off the street lights so we can save more than $14,000 per year. I could, however, be the only one who thinks this is a good idea.
Now, I'd like your thoughts! Call or come by.
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