I suspect that Tuesday night’s City Council meeting will contain a lively debate over $36,000 of donations that the city had included in its 2008-09 budget. The donations are now in jeopardy as the city is seeking to close a nearly half-million-dollar budget shortfall. Included in the donations are:
• $10,000 for the Boys and Girls Club.
• $2,000 for the Easter Egg Hunt.
• $10,000 for Kuna Days fireworks.
• $5,000 for the Kuna Chamber of Commerce.
• $9,000 for The Zone after-school program at Kuna Life Church.
The city is poring over every detail of the city budget, cutting police services, heating and electric bills for the senior center, cutting pay for city employees and reducing the work week by one hour every week. The city has managed about $260,000 of cuts, but they still have about $230,000 to go to balance the budget. The possibility looms of laying off a city employee or two.
In light of all that, I think the city should kill all of the donations for this year. Kuna Days will have to explore the possibility of a scaled down fireworks show, the chamber will have to pore over its own budget to determine where it can cut, the Easter Egg Hunt will have to rely on business donations and perhaps scale back on the prizes awarded, and the Boys and Girls Club is going to have to work harder in its $3.5 million fundraising capital campaign. Pastor Stan Johnson of Kuna Life Church was at Tuesday night’s meeting, but I didn’t get a chance to talk to him about the $9,000 donation to The Zone, so I don’t know how vital that donation is to The Zone. I suppose the city could consider maintaining that portion or reducing it slightly.
Even with these donations cut, the city still has no hope of closing the budget gap. It’s vital that the city cut everything that is not necessary to running city government at this point. I hope City Council members see the wisdom in cutting back now so that cuts are not more drastic in the future. The economy will rebound, the funding will return, the growth will come back. In the meantime, though, we all need to scale back.