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Opinion: City-district cooperation can be a good thing

It seems safe to say the proposed preliminary budget discussed by Farmington City Council members Tuesday has drawn more public attention than any preliminary budget in recent memory.

That's the kind of thing that will happen when a the budget calls for the closure of a popular city pool and a council member threatens legal action against the city administrator because he feels like he's being kept in the dark.

It's the kind of thing that gets people talking. Buried somewhere at the center of that talk, though, is a sign of progress. Talk of closing the pool and of eliminating a city employees job is the result of conversations between city's parks and recreation department and Farmington Community Education about ways to streamline the delivery of recreational programs. Remove all of the details that have people so worked up and it's exactly the kind of city-district cooperation people were complaining doesn't happen enough.

It's the form some of those discussions have taken that have some people worked up. And we can understand that. Eliminating someone's job is always a sensitive subject. Add in people stirring the pot with talk of conspiracies and thing are bound to get ugly.

We're glad the city and the school district are talking. We think in the long run Farmington residents will benefit if the two sides can find a way to work together on recreational programming. It should mean more options for everyone.

But there has to be a way to make this work for everyone. We can understand the argument for closing the pool -- it doesn't make money for the city -- but it would be nice to think this cooperation would be more about increasing offerings than about cutting costs by eliminating jobs.

This budget is hardly a finished product. Council members on Tuesday asked staff members to make some additional cuts to reduce the amount by which the city's tax levy will increase.

Whatever happens, we believe cooperation between city and school district is a good thing. We hope it continues. And we hope there is a way to make it work for city, district and resident alike.