Well, the budget summit is over. I’m happy to report that it went very well. Everyone was well prepared (old COM brought a really good list of quesitons) and we had a great discussion. Dan and Dave brought laptops with notes! I’ll take a bit of a risk and say that there was some concern over a couple of details but overall, everyone generally agreed that it’s a practical, if status quo, budget. Please note that I’m not indicating that anyone present would “vote” for this budget, just that they thought it was practical.
Most of the concern was over the staff changes. I don’t know that there was agreement over the Museum positions but I do know that the Director of HR position wasn’t very popular due to the cost associated with it. It is a director-level position so it’ll be north of $120,000 year I’d guess. That’s a lot of money. We didn’t get a chance to discuss staff salaries/raises but that issue will recieve a ton of scrutiny from the Council in any event.
The two other items that were discussed at some length were the city’s Strategic plan and the Museum. The strategic plan and how it was tied to the budget was a good discussion and it was gratifying that someone other than me brought it up! (I think the Council should spend more time on the strategic plan and how it relates to the budget but that’s a discussion for a different day) The Museum was discussed at some length as well. My general take on that is that people like the Museum but want it to perform better and I agree with that. Steve Thomas, who is on the Museum board, laid out for those present how they’re going about getting that done.
The other thing I love about these kinds of meetings is the opportunity to explain stuff that doesn’t make a lot of sense until someone walks you through it. Take, for instance, the airport. Given the numbers in the budget, it isn’t obvious that it doesn’t cost the City any money…but it doesn’t. We used to have to subsidize it but it now operates profitably.
It went so well, I’d consider doing another one in a couple of weeks or maybe even asking folks to serve on a “budget committee” of sorts in order to get feedback. Before I do that, I pledge to Dan and Dave that I’ll find a blind for the window so you won’t have to sit in the sun again. Sorry about that…