We’re getting close to the time when City Council members begin deliberations on how to spend our money in the next fiscal year.
It is not an easy task. In our personal lives, we all notice when utility bills go up and when it costs more to put gas in our vehicles.
The same holds true for the city with its bills.
The public expects the council to hold the line on spending. But the council, like the rest of us, has to figure out how to pay the bills and yet invest in the city’s future.
One way of doing that is to look at possible ways of making budget cuts.
Two years ago, Mayor Eric Bookmeyer, Councilman Scott Tornquist and others questioned the budget of the Mason City Human Rights Commission, which received $127,162 in city money in 2009. By comparison, the Fort Dodge HRC received $10,075 and Marshalltown’s commission got no city funds.
It would seem proper for Mason City officials to at least look at why Mason City spent $127,000 while other cities were spending next to nothing.
The main reason is Mason City’s commission investigates the complaints it receives; other cities pass the complaints on to the state to review.
There’s more to it than that but Bookmeyer and Tornquist were criticized by some in the public and even by some council members for questioning the commission’s budget.
Why pick on them, some asked.
This year, the council looked at the possibility of instituting “managed competition” with the Sanitation Department.
It’s a process where the city would solicit bids for garbage pickup — and the Sanitation Department could also bid on it.
The idea was to determine how the city could get the biggest bang for its buck — but the reaction of many was: Why fix something that ain’t broken? Why pick on them?
Eventually, the council decided the present system is working well. So “managed care” was put on the shelf for now.
Last week, Tornquist noted Highland Park golf course is losing about $75,000 so far this fiscal year and has been losing money for years.
He asked if it wasn’t time for the city to discuss the possibility of selling it.
Just by bringing it up, he’s likely to find out how the public feels about it.
Some might say kill it. Others will say: Why pick on the golf course?
It’s all part of the budget process — par for the course, you might say.
Reach John Skipper at 421-0537 or firstname.lastname@example.org.