LJWorld.com weblogs Town Talk
How would you cut the city budget?
Here’s a general rule when it comes to City Commission politics: When you start talking about specific cuts, you start running the risk of specific people not voting for you.
So when I asked City Commission candidates recently what they would cut to balance what is expected to be a tight 2010 city budget, I didn’t get a lot of specifics.
So, we decided we would ask you. Tell us your thoughts below.
Candidates, though, weren’t entirely mum on the subject. Here’s a few thoughts that they did offer.
• Tom Johnson and Lance Johnson both said 2010 might be the year that city employees have to forgo a wage increase.
“I’ve got friends who are losing their jobs,” Lance Johnson said. “I know there are people who are saying they would rather take a pay cut than see more job losses.”
• Tom Johnson, Dennis Constance and Gwen Klingenberg all have said they would closely examine funding that is given to the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce for economic development marketing. Tom Johnson said the review also should include funding for Downtown Lawrence Inc. and the Lawrence-Douglas County Bioscience Authority.
• Price Banks has said the key to controlling the city’s budget is to vow not to undertake any new large projects for the time-being. He said that includes starting construction on a new sewer plant, and he’s also raised questions about efforts to restore the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Depot in East Lawrence, and has called for scaled back plans for the former Carnegie Library building at Ninth and Vermont streets.
• Aron Cromwell and Banks both criticized the approach that the city manager’s office used to respond to potentially $1 million in state budget cuts. City Manager David Corliss’ office put together a list of cuts that included closing Prairie Park Nature Center, eliminating city funding for school crossing guards, and shortening the hours of parks and recreation centers.
Banks called the list of ideas a “coercive tactic.” Cromwell said the list of cuts was an example of political gamesmanship.
“It was a list of things that would make us all cry,” Cromwell said. “We were talking about basically one percent of our budget, and the city’s answer of how we could save that $1 million was purely political. We can easily cut a few percent out of our budget without cutting services, but we don’t have time to play these political games.”