Speak out on City budget

With relatively little fanfare, the City seems to be moving rapidly toward adopting a final budget for 2008-09 that amounts to almost a 10% increase over 2007. Altho schools are the largest part of our property tax burden, the City seems to be determined to do some catch-up. On the revenue side, the City plans not only for more property taxes, but also to take more out of ordinary citizens' hides through fines and penalties, hidden taxes that are ethically questionable and are borne inequitably.

There will be a final budget review workshop this Saturday, starting at 9:00 in the Council chambers (2d floor of the Civic Center).

Adoption is scheduled for the City Council meeting Monday, Feb. 25, starting at 8:30. Citizen input has reportedly been low, not amounting to anything near the brouhaha over whether or not City personnel should be barred from asking persons about their immigration status. Not sure why this is. Are we all distracted by Obamania? Worn out by more than an entire year of planning?

In citizens' defense, media coverage as usual is in extremely broad generalities. I personally found the budget a little hard to find online, and I'm a little more dogged than some. Buried in the Departments section, it doesn't pop from the City website altho you'd think it would be front-paged. However, you can get to the page, and download the entire proposal and all the budget memos by clicking here. The 2009-09 proposal is 533 pages long as a PDF but takes about 2-1/2 minutes to download with a high-speed connection, probably about 10 minutes if you are still using dial-up. I assume there is also a copy at the North Branch.

I think it's a shirking of responsibility for the City to issue a phone-book size document and then make it the citizens' job to play "Where's Waldo?" and find places to cut. If they were serious about that, we should institute an online way of voting our priorities. However, in the absence of such processes, I urge citizens and neighbors to take a peek at the proposal and show up Saturday with some creative ideas. I for one know that when my household is looking at tighter times, making cuts is not optional, it's mandatory.

Or, if you feel that our spending levels and taxes are too low, show up and let them know that.