Thursday, June 26, 2008


Our city is now going through the sort of budget crunch that neighboring cities went through several years ago. I’m not sure how we avoided it for so long, but the consequences are starting to become clear. Increased class sizes and much less foreign language instruction, dozens of layoffs in the school system, no new trees planted by a city that used to be proud to be a National Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree City USA, no replacements for retired cops and firefighters, and a 91% cut to the budget for part-time help in the library.

City Hall is feeling the pinch, too. Not a single layoff, of course. The mayor sets the budget, and the mayor runs City Hall. But no shifting from answering machines to new-fangled voicemail. That would be about communication, and the city is resolutely opposed to communication. They’re actually slashing the IT budget as well, and removing a number of high-speed Internet lines serving City Hall. You’d think Comcast would be willing to donate a little broadband to City Hall in thanks for the egregious monopoly that the city enforces (No FIOS for YOU!), but the budget is really just an excuse for City Hall to become even more remote.

Daily life in the city won’t change much. Parents will be rightly concerned about the school system, and there will be pockets of public discussion about property tax overrides and debt exclusions, but most people care about their personal economic situation much more than the city’s. And that’s ok, or it would be if families weren’t all making those same choices that the city is making.

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