Today's Question: Balancing the city's budget

Tuesday, March 31, 2009 | 10:14 a.m. CDT; updated 11:00 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, March 31, 2009

With the economy still in a state of peril, many departments in Columbia are concerned with how the City Council will attempt to balance the city’s budget.

Last week, the Columbia Police Department was reassured by candidates for two seats on the council that its budget would not be at risk of being cut. Instead, the candidates said they plan to cut costs in other ways.

Second Ward candidates Allan Sharrock and Jason Thornhill agreed that one way the city could save money would be to cut the amount of spending that goes tovarious parks and trails. Thornhill said recreation programs would be on his list of cuts as well as programs that don’t provide a “good return on the city’s investment.”

In addition to parks and trails, Sharrock said the city must look at more business incentives to stimulate the economy and increase tax revenue.

“I don’t think anything should be left off the table,” Sharrock said. “… Everything has to be looked at, examined and discussed.”

Sixth Ward candidates Barbara Hoppe and Rod Robinson said balancing the budget is going to take a collective effort by all the various departments in the city. They both said they’d like to rely on those departments’ leaders to determine where to cut costs.

Hoppe added that she would like to cut the amount of money the city spends on its utility bills and would like to examine whether there are costs that should be covered by others, such as when construction vehicles cause large amounts of wear and tear on roads.

If the city is looking at budget cuts to balance the budget, where should those cuts come from?

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