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Editorial: City has big decisions ahead in 2012

The city of Farmington has a lot on its plate for the year ahead. That much is clear from the priorities identified on this week's front page by mayor Todd Larson and city administrator David McKnight.

Larson said he wants to talk about adding a fire truck that has long been on the wish list of the city's fire department. He wants to solve the riddle of attracting new business to town in a challenging economy.

McKnight expects to take a closer look at how city government is organized, a task made necessary in part by a budget that is already tight and bound to get tighter thanks to some one-time money used to balance this year's budget.

A lot of what the city is able to do in the year ahead will come down to that budget. It's all but certain the city will have to make cuts, so the question will become where to make those cuts, and how to accomplish them without causing undue harm to the services residents receive.

McKnight has said he wants to start sooner than has been the city's custom on the process of putting that budget together. That is good news. The city's budget process the last two years has been anything but smooth, with indecision and last-minute reversals creating an added level of difficulty for a process that has challenges enough on its own. If McKnight and the city council can get that process in order, other decisions should come more easily.

There will be no shortage of big decisions for the city in 2012. Some are covered in the comments Larson and McKnight made this week. Others are likely to come up unexpectedly. That is the nature of running an organization as big and diverse as a city government. The city will be well served on the more difficult decisions if it manages to avoid making job more difficult than it needs to be.