Take a break from spending
We need a break, a fiscal time-out, while we get our economy back to the growth level we were experiencing a few months ago. Also, we need to get our residents and businesses functioning with a normal and healthy life.
We should put on hold hiring for non-essential government positions that we can’t afford due to the sharp reduction in government receipts, from taxes, fees etc. We should put tight controls on government spending while we work to bring our unemployment levels down to last year’s record-low level; while our children make up what they lost while being educated at home; while those directly affected by the virus regain their health and employability; and while the city sees what impact our recent situation has had and will continue to have on the city’s income.
We should reevaluate the budgets and not only keep them within the fiscal limits requested by the mayor but see if we can reduce government spending even more by delaying implementation of some programs that aren’t time sensitive or necessarily essential.
The Board of Education could delay the implementation of the superintendent’s new “strategy” for the overall education of our children. This would mean less hiring of additional teachers and administrators. This would give the BOE the opportunity to provide the parents with a better understanding of what to expect from the new approach. The stay-at-home situation canceled the public meeting that was going to be held for this purpose. I hope the new approach will see our students graduate with higher levels of subject proficiency and be fully ready to join the work force.
We also should revisit the new middle school construction program. We need to have the open house discussion on the plan to discuss and debate the need for the increased size of the proposed middle school, even though our student numbers are decreasing. We could also determine what is possible for 80% of the current projected cost. We already have a good estimate of student numbers for the middle school for the next six years. Therefore, if we experience an unexpected surge in student numbers, we have time to build on to the middle school structure. This gives us fiscal flexibility if our needs surprisingly increase.
Other programs, such as the arts center, and cost reassessments also could affect our financial requirements and shouldn’t be hurt by a one-year delay.
I am sure the city could add to the savings in other areas as well.
Given the financial impact of COVID-19 to the city’s financial intake from taxes, fees etc., it seems to me we need to take a pause to ensure we only move forward with financial expenditures that are truly time sensitive and important, and that the government budget can afford.
I am hopeful for a quick recovery both human and economic from this virus, I just want to ensure a thoughtful and responsible approach.