June 30, 2009

On flower pots and libraries

My city, like many other municipalities these days, has a bit of a budget crunch. Expenses exceed income and so cuts must be made. One of the first things my city cut was the flower pots that decorate major intersections in the summers. To me, that seems like a reasonable cut. Yes, the flowers are beautiful. But they cost $20,000 per year (including water and labor costs). And at the same time, our library is struggling with its budget and has a hiring freeze, even with several open positions. In my opinion, if you've got an underfunded library it's not wise to spend taxpayer money on flowers.

In the end, the Rotary Club took up the cause and donated money for the planters. Wonderful, I say. We get to keep the flowers without spending very much city money on them. They are still watered and tended by city workers who have been reassigned from jobs like weeding and picking up litter, but the bulk of the expense has been shouldered by the Rotary Club and private citizens.

However, (you knew there was a however coming, right?) I am a bit concerned about the attitudes of my fellow citizens on this. Clearly, not everyone shares my priorities. A sampling of the comments left on the various stories about these flowers:

Rotarians show the city what matters, even if its just flowers. Seems that the city needs a clue on what matters. Hurrah for community volunteers!

Yes, hurrah for community volunteers. But I'm thinking that the cutting of these pots from the city budget is a sign that the city DOES have a clue what matters.

Talk about out of touch with your citizens. Broomfield needs to listen to its citizens and find a way to put this in the budget.

As a citizen of Broomfield, I will support putting this back in the budget when we can fully fund our library, not before.

Eliminate a couple of part time positions and you've got your money. It's all about priorities.

When a city government prioritizes protecting it's own staff versus providing for the town, somethings wrong. The core mission of a city government should be to provide services. It's core mission is not to protect a job or two.

If the city was flush with cash, sure I could get on board with this. But we're NOT. And yes, the city government should provide services. Like, oh, I don't know....a staffed LIBRARY? Flowers are not a service, they are a nicety. When our family budget is in a crunch, the niceties are what get jettisoned first. And really? In this economy you put more value on some flower pots at intersections than you do on keeping people employed and off the public assistance rolls? Hmm.


Robin T said...

They also cut all the food they were serving at board/committee meetings (and apologized profusely to us for it).

jentifred said...

That seems like another reasonable expense to cut. And again, if it's that important you could pool your personal money and order sandwiches or pizza, right?

Robin T said...

Yup--but I'm pretty sure all of us viewed it as "nice, but not necessary".

I actually think Broomfield has done a very nice job of handling itself; cutting back, but not going crazy about anything.