Rob Douglas' column appears Fridays in the Steamboat Today. He can be reached at rdouglas@SteamboatToday.com.
Find more columns by Douglas here.
For an in-depth look at the city's proposed 2009 budget, pick up a copy of this Sunday's Steamboat Pilot & Today.
Steamboat Springs Given that our nation's current fiscal morass was created by the power and money gluttons of Washington and Wall Street, is it any wonder most citizens feel helpless as their financial health is threatened?
How do we stop the insanity as more than a trillion dollars are squandered in futile attempts to save an economy weakened by decades of obscene spending by Republicans and Democrats?
As private citizens, is there anything we can do to re-establish sound monetary principles as the bedrock of American governance?
Indeed there is.
We can begin to change the spending habits of Washington by changing spending habits here in the Yampa Valley. As a nation, our local governing bodies serve as the incubator for those we send to higher office. If we want fiscal discipline in Washington, we should demand it at home.
We should demand it from the Steamboat Springs City Council.
Eleven months ago, voters in Steamboat expressed their anger at the never-ending orgy of spending conducted by city government when they rejected every incumbent councilmember standing for re-election.
Next Tuesday, we will learn whether the new faces ushered in to replace the spendthrifts remember the lesson of their electoral birth. Just in case, we should remind the current council that either the days of outflow exceeding income must end - or their political careers will.
On Tuesday, the Steamboat Springs City Council will gather at 8 a.m. in Centennial Hall to undertake the budget for 2009. Reportedly, the council will consider a proposed operating budget that calls for a 3.31 percent increase in spending, even though revenue is projected to decline by 6.28 percent. The $1.9 million gap between revenue and spending means that - as has become the habit during the past decade - reserve funds will be used to make up the difference.
So, this new council is faced with its first true fiscal test.
Will the council choose fiscal prudence by cutting $1.9 million and balancing the operating budget, or will the council choose to continue the profligate spending habits of past councils?
Now, rest assured, those seeking city funding for their department or program have made their desires and demands known to council often and, at times, loudly. They will be out in force next Tuesday to plead their case yet again.
But, there is a group that the City Council rarely hears from. That group is the all-too-silent majority that wants the council to rein in spending and balance the budget. You can find this group at almost any gathering in Steamboat - except at council meetings where their voices would do the most good.
So, if you're one of the many who want this council to set a precedent by balancing the budget, it's time for you to be heard. If you don't contact the council members and make them aware of your views about a balanced budget, they will hear only from those seeking tax dollars for their programs. And, politicians being politicians, they will succumb to greasing the squeaky wheels before them.
Unfortunately, council scheduled the budget meeting next Tuesday during working hours. At that time, most residents are out trying to make a living and can't afford time off to express their views during the public comment period scheduled for 2 to 3:30 p.m. So, if you wish to express your opinion to the council about whether it should adopt a balanced budget, you should contact the council members prior to next Tuesday.
To contact the council, use the following e-mail addresses and phone numbers.
- President Loui Antonucci: LAntonucci@steamboatsprings.net; 879-2505.
- President Pro-Tem Cari Hermacinski: CHermacinski@steamboatsprings.net; 846-1066.
- Steve Ivancie: SIvancie@steamboatsprings.net; 879-2179.
- Meg Bentley: MBentley@steamboatsprings.net; 879-7402.
- Walter Magill: WMagill@steamboatsprings.net; 819-1161.
- Scott Myller: SMyller@steamboatsprings.net; 846-1700.
- Jon Quinn: JQuinn@steamboatsprings.net; 879-0734.