One thing that stands out in this budget is the cuts straight to the heart of all community organizations. This may, in part, be due to my own involvement with them, but it was also immediately noticed by several City Councilors, and for various reasons. And to me, there’s something cynical about these suggestions.
One person suggested that this was pure laziness on the part of Staff, that they went for the low-hanging fruit in finding their savings. Every budget, these grants of various types seem to dangle temptingly in front of certain Councilors’ eyes.
Another suggestion has been that it was pure spite, a sort of “You wanted cuts, well here they are” sort of thing. Anything is possible, but there’s a third possibility and that is that the choice was made because the grants are what is termed “soft services”, the softest services there are in fact. Hard, or core, services are such things as water, sewers, road, bridges, fire services, etc., the things that absolutely have to be done.
But while either, or maybe even a little bit of each of these reasons may have been a factor, or maybe there’s another reason altogether, that isn’t what strikes me as cynical about the suggestions. The cynical part is that Staff know that City Council is extremely unlikely to let these cuts stand, or a good many of them anyways.
It’s unlikely the nine members of our Council will let such things as no more ice subsidies, user fees for kids’ sports, a chance of losing the Santa Claus Parade, and such stand. Especially when the organizations start packing the Council Chambers and lining up to speak.
Already the budget process has seen the money from which funding for such things as the Santa Claus Parade put back in. I suspect that, when Council gets to the departments that deal with the others, that we’ll see many of the others back as well.
I won’t go into the reasons I think these things are good because I’ve done so much too often already. But whatever the reasons for throwing these items in there, the question remains of why Staff bothered.