Our View: Responsibility starts here

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Editorial Board, February 2009 through May 2009

  • Suzanne Schlicht, general manager
  • Brent Boyer, editor
  • Mike Lawrence, city editor
  • Tom Ross, reporter
  • Paul Hughes, community representative
  • Gail Smith, community representative

Contact the editorial board at (970) 871-4221 or editor@steamboatpilot.com. Would you like to be a member of the board? Fill out a letter of interest now.

Standing before hundreds of thousands gathered in the cold Tuesday on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., President Barack Obama gave a sobering inaugural address that spoke about the storms our country is facing on multiple fronts.

The man elected on a platform of change, hope and promise emphasized that those problems - including a down-spiraling economy, increasing unemployment rates, war and our nation's image in the world - can't be solved by one person, or in short order.

But one person - each and every one of us - can make a difference.

That message holds true in Routt County.

Moments after being sworn in as the 44th president of the U.S., Obama talked about "our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age."

Later, Obama said: "Our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions - that time has surely passed."

And later still: "Those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account - to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day - because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government."

In Steamboat Springs, city government officials have spent much of the past several months laboring over a budget that underwent initial cuts of more than $2 million. But even then, some on City Council warned that revenue projections may have been too optimistic and additional cuts could be needed.

Last week's news that November sales tax receipts were down 9 percent from the same month in 2007 was distressing yet timely. Looking ahead to a spring and summer that could be difficult on the local construction industry, among other trades, indicates that making ends meet may get even tougher in Steamboat and Routt County.

Preparing for further possible budget cuts, council members spent Thursday working on a prioritized list of city services. The hope is that the list will facilitate cuts if and when they're necessary.

But the prioritization process begun in October is proving to be lengthy enough to frustrate some council members. This is not a time for politicized, dragged-out debates.

Rather, it is a time for every city department head to re-examine its budget and to work hard to find ways to increase the efficiency of the department - to do more with less, just as homeowners and families are doing across the country and throughout our community.

It is a time for strong leadership from City Council members and county commissioners, who should continue to work to streamline and focus budget discussions to get the most out of public dollars.

There's plenty to be said for cutting based on prioritization of services. The common argument in favor of such a move is that it doesn't reduce spending on core services, instead focusing reductions on those services deemed less important. But across-the-board cuts serve a valuable purpose, too - and one we don't think council members should forget. An across-the-board cut forces city department heads to find and eliminate the unnecessary spending within each of their own departments. It enables them to creatively manage the programs the city and county deemed vital at the start of the fiscal year.

Tuesday's Inauguration was a grand moment during a troubling time in our nation's history. Its overriding message - that success on a national level begins with personal responsibility and perseverance locally, as we as Americans "dust ourselves off and begin again the work of remaking America" - is ultimately a message of hope.

In our community, the regrettable task of trimming budgets can spur new levels of efficiency and better use of dollars. It can spur better government.

Out of the storm comes clearer skies.

Comments

Richard Levy 5 years, 8 months ago

"Millions of people packed the Mall early Tuesday "...cnn.com

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