The Council Did The Right Thing With This Budget
In January, The Post-Journal opined that Sundquist and Dolce were joined at the hip, that teamwork was necessary for the city to move forward.
Those words were prescient for this year’s budget, when the experience of council members Anthony Dolce, R-Ward 2 and council president, Kim Ecklund, D-At Large and Finance Committee chairwoman, and Marie Carrubba, D-Ward 4 and a former president of the council, led the council to craft a workable amended budget. In four weeks’ work, the council has answered a longtime criticism from city residents who wanted the council to act as a counterbalance to the mayor’s office.
Mayor Edward Sundquist proposed an ambitious budget that sought to make changes to health care for city retirees and major changes to downtown parking fines and fees. The budget came with a small tax cut that was coupled with major fee increases, but most troubling were health care savings that weren’t likely to materialize quickly, if at all. Sundquist’s budget proposal bit off more than the city can chew, for now.
Into the breach stepped the council. Ecklund, Carrubba and Dolce crafted budget changes that eliminate the health care changes for retirees and, at the same time, created a new $1.1 million expense. The three council members led an effort amongst the council to find about $600,000 in cuts or additional revenue that, combined with an appropriation of $500,000 from the city’s surplus, balance the budget without a tax increase. The budget that will be voted on today is a spending plan most city residents can live with, and that is perhaps all that can be asked during a pandemic that has brought major uncertainties to budgeting.
The council did the right thing. Put this budget to rest.