Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Kuna City Council should be doing more talking and more cutting in the budget process

Kuna City Council members should be working harder to come up with some cost savings in next year’s city budget in an effort to avoid a property tax hike. They should also be working harder to get rid of a streetlight fee that was passed earlier this year as an emergency measure.
Over the past several budget workshops that I’ve witnessed, City Council members aren’t doing much questioning and they’re not doing much discussing about the budget. They’ve been receiving reports from department heads, but from what I have observed, they haven’t really been talking about or considering cost-cutting measures or looking at keeping property taxes flat.
For example, council members received a report from Lt. Kody Aldrich, Kuna’s police chief, on a $1.24 million contract with the Ada County Sheriff’s Office for police services, a basically flat budget from the current year. But no one asked him about cutting the budget, perhaps doing with one less deputy or cutting elsewhere in the budget. I’m not saying that would be a wise idea, but let’s at least explore the possibility.
These are difficult economic times, and many of our households are down to one income or even worse, unemployment, or a lesser-paying job, or making ends meet with a couple of part-time jobs. The city should be doing all it can to lessen the burden on its residents in times like these, not raising property taxes.
Just one example is a $33,500 line item for park capital expenditures, which include $8,000 for new trees, $10,500 for a new service mule and $15,000 for a council-designated project. Those should all be eliminated.
I’m certain there are more areas that can be examined. City Council members, in my estimation, should be doing a lot more talking — and a lot more cutting.

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