Editorial: Budget process was a bumpy roadThe city of Farmington's 2009 budget is finally finished, but getting to this point was not pretty.
The city of Farmington's 2009 budget is finally finished, but getting to this point was not pretty.
Putting together a viable budget for a city like Farmington will never be a simple process. And it's especially difficult in challenging economic times. Governor Tim Pawlenty's decision to eliminate $350,000 in state aid added extra challenges. The city made a number of significant cuts in the current year's budget, from reducing the salaries of city employees to elminating some of the jobs it would normally create during the summer months.
The city got where it needed to be, but the process could have been handled better. The cuts and other budget adjustments came in fits and starts over the course of three meetings, and it never felt like there was much consistency in the process. Never seemed like there was a larger plan. City council members told finance director Robin Roland to find places to cut, and she did the best she could to find solutions wherever they might be.
The process worked. The budget is balanced for this year. But even then the whole thing nearly got sent back to square one. As council members considered the last $75,000 of changes Monday night at least two sought to open the process again. In essence, to start all over. To come up with that overarching plan that had been lacking and to address the cuts the city will almost certainly need to make in its 2010 budget. Because while the finances are in order for the current year little of what the city has done to reach this point will help much next year.
Its not a bad idea. It just came too late in the process. Council members couldn't schedule a meeting to discuss a grand budget plan until June, when 2009 will be half over.
At a certain point you need to put your pencils down and move on to the next issue.
The Farmington City Council has reached that point. Even if getting there was a rough ride.