John Skipper Column: HRC wasn’t singled out for scrutiny

2013-02-11T00:01:00Z 2014-10-20T14:46:59Z John Skipper Column: HRC wasn’t singled out for scrutinyBy John Skipper Mason City Globe Gazette
February 11, 2013 12:01 am  • 

The City Council is proposing to cut the Human Rights Commission budget from $143,000 to $15,000 next year.

That’s one of those “on the one hand, on the other hand” situations.

On the one hand, that’s a whale of a cut by anyone’s standards.

On the other hand,it puts the Mason City HRC budget pretty much in line with HRC budgets in other cities our size.

Whether the reduction is a good idea or bad idea will be kicked around for quite a while and voters will have a chance to register their opinion on the wisdom of it when the mayor and three council members are up for election in November.

But it would be a hard argument to make that the Human Rights Commission has been singled out for scrutiny.

Try telling that to workers in the city’s Sanitation Department. Many of them felt like their jobs were in limbo while the council considered establishing a “managed competition” plan last summer.

That would have allowed private haulers to bid on providing garbage pickup in Mason City and possibly eliminate city jobs. The city’s Sanitation Department would have also been allowed to bid.

The council gave it a “test flight” by soliciting bids and eventually dropped the idea, apparently realizing the city’s services were the best bang for the buck.

The council also looked into the idea of changing the work hours of Mason City firefighters, thinking that shorter work shifts would bring more efficiencies to the department and perhaps save money.

That idea was put on the shelf when research was produced that showed the changes probably wouldn’t bring about the desired results.

This year’s budget considerations included what could have been major changes at the public library, including closing the Commons, the archives and the Mason City Room.

None of those ideas rose to the level of serious discussion, but they were on the drawing board, as were possible cuts in personnel to the police and fire departments.

In the end, the council opted to make the biggest cut to the Human Rights Commission.

But other department heads will tell you the HRC was not the only one facing the scalpel.

Reach John Skipper at 421-0537 or john.skipper @globegazette.com.

Copyright 2015 Mason City Globe Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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