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Editorial: Proposed job cuts would cause problems

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opinion Farmington, 55024

Farmington Minnesota P.O. Box 192 / 312 Oak St. 55024

The city of Farmington is in a difficult position with regards to its budget. Thanks to a number of factors, many of which are beyond the city's control, city council members find themselves looking for ways to cut costs.

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Earlier this week, those discussions turned in earnest to a pair of fairly prominent positions. On Monday city council members will decide whether to eliminate the city's economic development specialist and administrative services director.

There are no easy decisions when you're talking about eliminating jobs, but these are perhaps not the best place to look. Eliminating the administrative services director's position would mean getting rid of the person on the city staff best trained to handle elections. Managing an election is a big job even in a normal year, but it's especially big now. Running the 2012 presidential election will be a huge task, and with the census recently completed there will be redistricting to deal with. At the moment, there is nobody on the city staff trained to take all of that over.

Cutting the economic development specialist position creates its own set of challenge. The position took on increased prominence in Farmington when the city council decided not to replace its last community development director. It is the economic development specialist job to expand and strengthen the city's business community. At a time when tax base is particularly important, that seems like a good person to have around.

Meanwhile, the community development department remains without a true director. Development is slow now, but there is still need to be prepared for the future.

Any move the city makes to eliminate jobs will create challenges. If it doesn't, then the city is overstaffed and cuts should be made. That is not the case now. When the suggested cuts discussed Monday included things like ice scrapers and air fresheners for parks vehicles, it seems clear the city is getting close to the bottom of the barrel. It's possible job cuts are necessary. We're just not sure this is the best place to start.

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