A lot can change in a week.
So with that thought in mind, just seven days after taking Coun. Mark Tweidt to the woodshed it’s important that he receive praise for something he said at this Monday’s city council meeting.
It came during the discussion on the Margo Fournier Centre and council’s reversal for user groups to get out by Dec. 31.
The councillor perfectly encapsulated the big problem that the city is facing as it backs away from an attempt to save money.
“We’re in a tough quandary,” Tweidt said. “The people of P.A. have loudly said they don’t want tax increases.”
It’s the economic version of the NIMBY -- not in my backyard -- factor that so often brings people to council meetings. Everybody wants cuts made to the budget but nobody wants any trimming to affect their interests.
If the community continues to rise up each time the city proposes a way to cut taxes, we better settle in for some giant tax hikes or greatly reduced services. We can’t have it all on a budget of nothing.
It’s hard not to feel bad for council. They are there to make this community’s hard decisions but none of them want to be vilified for doing it. Life is far too short -- and this city is far too small -- to have somebody glaring at you every time you go to the grocery store because you closed the place they take their crocheting class.
This decision puts the city back at square one in many ways.
It might be time for council to hold a town hall meeting and explore a little bit of Budgeting 101 with the citizenry.
They could explain where this city’s money comes from -- in general terms -- and where they see where potential efficiencies could be gained. They just did this during the budgeting process but it needs to be laid out in stark terms in a public forum.
They could in essence say “If you the citizen want us to spend $2 million less, here are 10 ways we could do it. What would you do?”
If paving has to be scaled back, you better not be bellyaching about bad roads. If staff needs to be cut, don’t complain about civic services. If some civic facilities have to be closed, then you better accept that too.
The Margo Fournier Centre may very well have been a cut that was far too close to the bone for too many people. And that’s a fair opinion based on the programs and offices in that building.
But before the folks who encouraged council to keep it open on Monday evening get too complacent, perhaps it’s time they did council a favour in return and offered a suggestion or two of their own to cut costs for the city.
It’s easy to spend; it’s a little harder to trim.
And their solution better not be closing other buildings because that kind of irony would be just a little too rich to digest.
Prince Albert Daily Herald