Paul Hughes: Cut back spending
October 12, 2008
Steamboat Springs — As I listened to portions of the City Council’s budget retreat, I heard predictable tales of financial gloom and calls to cut back drastically on city spending. I’d like to offer a counter proposal that makes more economic sense than deep cuts: continued, judicious spending.
Our local economy desperately needs money to flow through it. The city is one of the region’s major economic engines, both in number of people employed (about 300) and in money spent annually (about $35 million). As I recall, some 70 percent of the city’s spending goes to local businesses, and city employees spend their salaries here as well. During the past 20-plus years, I’ve been told by more than one business that it was its sales to the city or town that kept it going through difficult times.
I’m not suggesting that the city is a small-scale version of FDR’s WPA, but I am saying that the city’s spending is very important to everyone who lives and does business here. Currently, the city is sitting on some $10 million of reserves that came from those it serves – residents and visitors. This is a good time to give some of that back by supporting local businesses. The last thing the city should do is take money out of the local economy. Instead, it should gauge just how and where it should spend some reserves to help keep our economy chugging along. Notice that I said “some” reserves, not all or even a lot. But to shut down, cut back, lay off, etc., will only exacerbate what is already a scary situation. The city has a positive role to play during these tough times, and I’d like to see it do its part.