October 22, 2014

EDITORIAL: Residents should attend public hearing on budget

There are plenty of ways to make your voice heard.
Be it going to the polls on Election Day, writing letters to the editor or to City Hall, or making phone calls to your local, state and federal government officials, an informed people who are involved in the governing of the place in which they live is always a good thing.
Perhaps the most effective way to make your voice heard, however, is through listening to and addressing governing entities in person. And you’ll have the chance to do just that on Monday evening when the Gardner City Council holds a public hearing on the city’s 2011 budget.
Think the decisions being made in City Hall won’t affect you? Think again. This year’s budget, much like last year’s, is full of difficult decisions to be made by the governing body. The council is considering budgets built around both a 6.5 mill increase and a recently proposed 4.5 mill increase. Either way, it means more dollars paid per month per household by Gardner residents. And in an economic downturn, even though some members of city government say the effects of a larger mill increase likely will not be felt by some Gardner residents, we agree with other members of the council who contend that for a large segment of the population, the difference between a 6.5 mill increase and a 4.5 mill increase could be the difference between having a month’s worth of medication or having to go without.
Going with a lower mill increase would, of course, mean that other parts of the city’s budget would have to sustain cuts. If you have a loved one buried in Gardner Cemetery, the council’s decision will affect you. If you enjoy going out to watch a production put on by Gardner Community Theatre, the council’s decision will affect you. It will affect you if you use the city’s parks. And, most importantly, it will affect you if you pay taxes here.
Ultimately, whether you’re truly concerned about paying more money to the city – whether it hits you hard in the wallet or not — is for you to decide. But we’ve seen where apathy gets us time and again – those who do not speak up, whether it is in favor of a mill increase or against it – must be content to live with the consequences.
Monday night is your chance to either tell the city you’re satisfied with the budget it has laid out, or that it should be more mindful of how the proposed budget will affect the average household. Whether you agree with the city’s cuts or think more can be done, council members won’t know unless you’re there to sound off as an average citizen and a taxpayer.
Monday night is your chance to make your voice heard one way or another. And we encourage you to take it.

Comments

  1. Jerry L Kellogg Sr says:

    Unfortunately, as Corbin saw tonight, very few citizens showed up for the council meeting. During the normal public comments period, one former long-time Gardner council member arose to offer his opinions against the proposed consolidation of Gardner fire protection service with Johnson County Fire District #1.

    Later, during the budget public hearing period, not one single soul stood up to offer a comment to the Council. However, I will bet we will read scores of complaints on these pages after the Aug 16 final vote.

    Ah, but it is still not too late to become involved before then. The council will hold its final budget work session at 6:30pm next Monday, Aug 9, in the staff meeting room on the east side of City Hall.

    Although all citizens are invited to observe these meetings, from what I have seen normal protocol does not include audience members becoming active participants in the discussions. However, it is an opportunity for you to listen to them and learn the mechanics of how council members arrive at their decisions.

    I have heard them mention during these work sessions about personal comments and concerns of residents speaking personally to them on the street or at events or received in emails, so they do consider and care about what we say. I urge everyone to personally pound on his or her computer keyboards and send council members their suggestions.

    After voting in the primary election tomorrow, you will still have 14 days to get your licks in with the Gardner City Council before their final vote. Do yourself a favor – do us all a favor — stay involved.

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