December 31, 2012 Leave a comment
Thursday night the Sunnyside City Council finally passed a budget for 2013. Sure, I had joked with some city staff about taking a vote just before the ball drops on New Years’ Eve, but we beat that deadline by just a few days.
The process by which government budgets are made is sometimes compared to making sausage. My sausage normally comes from the local grocery, but my father and I took a deer to get processed into venison sausage when I was younger. Seeing the animals in the meat locker, and going over options for seasoning the meat gave me some insight into how the stuff gets made. Our budget workshops are the monetary equivalent of that grisly process.
After one budget workshop meeting, a colleague said, “That meeting was as painful as giving birth.” It is a sentiment I agree with. The problems in city finances are not of the city manager’s making. He came in this year, was handed a bad situation, and dealt with it to the best of his ability.
At the last meeting, I said the city’s experiment with a two-year budget has been a failure. I am glad that council is now going back to annual budgets. In addition, changes in staff working with city finances will bring new perspectives to the situation. New software systems are being used, and will hopefully yield a better picture of finances as we move into the New Year.
I look forward to taking a turn on the City Council Finance Subcommittee, beginning in 2013. We are in a better position moving forward, but still have tough decisions ahead of us.
The majority of council did not want to cut as deeply into the city budget as I advocated for. The result is a budget that relies more heavily on tax increases than I am comfortable with. However, the city’s police force will maintain its number of patrol officers, which are doing fantastic work in bringing down crime from seven year averages.
Just a few hours after our council meeting concluded, surrounding agencies from Yakima County Sheriff’s Office, Mabton Police Department, Grandview Police Department, Benton County Sheriff’s Office, and the Prosser Police Department came to aid the Sunnyside Police Department in responding to a shooting at Dark Horse Inn.
The Sunnyside Police Officers voluntarily sacrificed an opportunity to negotiate cost of living increases, and gave up physical fitness incentives totaling $40,000 in the coming year, to help the city keep the same number of officers out on patrol. One report indicates that when the first officers arrived at the Dark Horse, over 100 people were running from the scene.
Most normal people would not want to be in a room when someone pulls out a gun and starts shooting. Police officers are wired differently. They have to be. They pressed on, surely fearing what they might find on the inside. They will be doing this in the future for less pay and benefits than they received in 2012.
We are blessed to have men and women in our police department that are willing to make these types of sacrifices for the citizens of our community. We are better off for it.
Six out of seven council members seem to agree, as a budget was passed that keeps all of our patrol officers. The one dissenting vote had nothing but criticism to offer, and was stunned into silence when the Mayor asked if they had any other options.
- Comments on Proposed 2013 City Budget (blogsunnyside.com)
- Man sought for shooting inside Sunnyside club (sfgate.com)
- Man sought for shooting inside Sunnyside club (seattletimes.com)