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Wide White: Burnsville is short on funds

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Burnsville is short on funds

But then, who isn't?
Burnsville City Council learns parks fund is short

A week after accepting a probable tax increase for 2011, the Burnsville City Council heard that another of its funds would need additional money after a lean 2010.

The city's parks fund, which is not currently balanced, will need an additional $130,000 a year starting in 2011 to pay for basic capital maintenance in the parks, city staff members told the council Monday during its second budget work session.

The council has already done most of the work to balance its 2010 budget, in which property taxes did not increase. The city cut $3.5 million from its 2010 budget, and the council said last week that it would not seek similar cuts in 2011.

"(The parks are) an asset of the community, and we need to make sure we are good stewards of this asset," Burnsville Mayor Elizabeth Kautz said.

Other council members agreed, saying they would rather not cut the parks budget any further.

The extra money, which would amount to about a 0.5 percent levy increase, was not included in last week's 2011 budget estimate. Staff members said then that the city could face up to an 8.4 percent increase in its tax levy. Council members emphasized Monday that the number was just an estimate that did not take into account any increase in revenue.
So, our parks fund already isn't balanced. Awesome.

And now we're looking at a 0.5% increase that will likely be necessary.

I'm not the CFO of Burnsville or anything, but I have a hypothesis for why budgets aren't met and taxes go up: cities don't save.

When my car breaks down and I need what amounts to "capital maintenance," I draw from savings to pay for it. I continue working and building that savings account for capital expenses. If a capital expense comes along that I haven't saved for, I have to sacrifice somewhere.

The government has a luxury that I don't have though: they can raise the funds they need anytime they want to. I can't tell my boss to give me a raise whenever I want.

Of course, at the end of the day, the government is us. We're responsible for our own mess. We elect the politicians who serve and we pay for the services we get. We need to do a better job of making sure they're spending that money wisely. I'd say by the looks of it, we're doing a pretty poor job of that.



Blogger Keithslady declared,

Some government entities, by law, are not allowed to save.

I leave you no opinion, just a statement. I know, that's no fun.

11/19/2009 9:11 AM  
Anonymous Mitch declared,

Adding to what your mom said. Most people would be upset if the government entities that can save taxed them to put it in a savings account.

11/19/2009 9:22 AM  
Blogger Joey declared,

I'm not sure if people would be angry. Our townhome association keeps a reserve fund and we do reserve studies to plan for how much we need in that fund. We'll raise association dues if that's what it takes to build up the reserve fund and most people are pretty okay with that.

But, an association is probably much easier than city government (depending on who you ask and how big the association is...).

11/19/2009 9:30 AM  

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