When City Hall sent out requests and applications for inclusion in its new citizen-based budget advisory committee, it did a smart thing: Mayor Mark asked for members across the spectrum of city interests. Business people, retirees, conservatives, liberals, supporters of his candidacy last election and even his opponent, radio personality Brett Bonner.
Whether this is a case of keeping your friends close and rivals closer remains to be seen, but it was undeniably a smart move, because the only way a committee like this will work is if it was representing a broad spectrum of the city’s interests, and not just a focused few.
According to the city, the purpose of the committee is “to involve community leaders in a meaningful way to ensure a sustainable city budget. The 15-member committee will make recommendations to city officials on budget policies, evaluate and recommend general fund revenue options, and make recommendations on priorities of government.”
This is a terrific idea. Unless one has attended city budget meetings ad nauseum, John Q. Citizen probably has very little idea what goes into the formation of a city budget, how many square pegs need to be somehow fitted into round holes, and how exasperating it is to have to cut money from a program. The popular – but incorrect – notion that funds can just be moved willy-nilly from slot A to slot B will be quickly disproven.
With new faces will come new ideas and new energy devoted to righting the budget ship, which despite a recent discovery of a windfall that will go right into the city surplus, remains dangerously in the red. Costs are exceeding revenues, and creative ideas and fresh approaches from the city’s citizenry will go a long way to solving this puzzle.
The task ahead for these committee members will be long, difficult, and largely thankless. so as they begin their work, we thank them in advance for dedicating their time to make this city a better place. The members of the budget advisory committee are Harry Allison, Brett Bonner, Sheri Burgler-Emerson, Mary Chaney, Jean-Luc Cornet, Terry Daughters, Mike Endsley, Eric Hirst, Hart Hodges, Steve Mach, Jo Ann McNerthney, Matthew Rose, Paul Schissler, Steven Staves, John Wilson, and Larry Ziels.
Thank you, and good luck ahead!