There will be a second Study Session for the Council on the University City FY2016 Draft Budget at the City Council meeting, Monday evening. This meeting is open to the public.
In February, the City Manager presented a budget that does not contain adequate funding for our street and sidewalk work. This budget appeared to be based upon the assumption that the bond issues would pass and most street and sidewalk work could be removed from the budget for a period of years. In April the voters overwhelmingly rejected the streets and parks bond issues, and the City Manager was asked to prepare a second draft budget with adequate funding for street and sidewalk work, maintaining the current levels of funding for Public Safety.
This latest proposal reads as a justification of his previous proposed changes with some slight modifications:
• Eliminate hours at Centennial Commons;
• Eliminate the summer camp program from 2016 and going forward;
• Eliminate the public indoor swim sessions;
• Reduce hours at Heman Park Pool.
The previously proposed cuts in the Police and Fire Department budgets remain - and still, no new street or sidewalk projects have been included in proposed budget.
When the City Manager was asked to present a new budget to incorporate funding for street and sidewalk work, it was not intended that Public Safety or recreation services to be cut in order to preserve the City Manager’s bloated budget, and the legislative budget of the Council. It is unacceptable that we would minimize Public Safety, and reduce services to our residents, while being asked to further subsidize private organizations like the University City Chamber of Commerce and Fair U City, and pay for the extensive travel plans of some members of the Council.
Finally, the money for funding the street and sidewalk work (roughly $500,000) is clearly available in the Capital Improvement Sales Tax Fund, but is being held as a “reserve” for some future grant match, which will not be required before June 30, 2016 (after which we will have a new budget). We already have a substantial uncommitted funds reserve, and do not need to create another reserve to avoid spending these funds on our streets. This money should be used for the street and sidewalk work.
I encourage you to read the City Manager’s latest proposal of revised budget recommendations and to attend the Tuesday, May 26, 2015 Council Study Session to hear the discussion, or contact your Councilmembers to let them know your thoughts about this budget. Council should not pass a budget that does not reflect the priorities of this community.