Editorial: Another year, another budget messAround this time last year we criticized the Farmington City Council for what we considered indecisiveness in the creation of its budget. Council members reversed themselves multiple times on some big decisions before finally reaching a conclusion.
Around this time last year we criticized the Farmington City Council for what we considered indecisiveness in the creation of its budget. Council members reversed themselves multiple times on some big decisions before finally reaching a conclusion. The exact phrase we used was, “we believe this council has crossed a line from pontification to procrastination.”
Things were going a lot better this time around. Council members were considering a plan that would have raised residents’ taxes, but also would have set up future councils better as they considered major projects around the city. The plan wasn’t necessarily popular among residents, but the city was doing a good job of giving people a chance to have their say.
It was a good process, and we said as much a few weeks ago.
Then Nov. 18 happened. A mistake showed up in some of the numbers the city was using, and it became clear the city’s plan was going to cost at least some residents significantly more than the city had been claiming. The plan the council had spent so long discussing went out the window, and on Monday council members gave their support to a package of more than $160,000 in cuts that was assembled hastily over the holiday weekend.
Council members can’t take much of the blame for the current situation. They worked with the numbers they were given. But such a significant disruption so late in the process is a concern. The cuts discussed Monday might work just fine, but they make some big assumptions about things like natural gas prices that are outside the city’s control. They also eliminate a contingency fund that would cover city expenses in an emergency.
It’s far from an ideal situation, and it’s one in which the city never should have found itself.
We don’t know who is to blame for this problem. City finance staff say they got a bad number from the county. County workers deny that. All we know is the mess that resulted. We believe it could have been avoided.