The Goshen City Council passed its 2013 budget Tuesday night with little fanfare. We are grateful for that.
Government budgets usually are “ho-hum” items for the public and during public hearings on them there is often just the government officials and members of the media in attendance. Occasionally, sharp, interested members of the public attend and ask good questions. We wish that scenario would become common.
This year the Goshen budget became interesting to the public because Mayor Allan Kauffman proposed taking the $800,000 used to pay for trash collection out of the budget. He was attempting to force the council to pay for the service temporarily through the Rainy Day Fund. An earlier idea to have a user fee for the service went nowhere.
When some council members balked at using the Rainy Day Fund, the mayor asked them to submit alternatives. Council President Tom Stump then proposed cutting up to $249,000 from the budget through elimination of programs and employees.
This give-and-take of ideas led to the compromise Tuesday, whereby the trash collection cost will be paid from expected property tax surpluses and $200,000 originally set aside for the Cumulative Capital Storm Water Fund. If money beyond those sources is still needed, then city operating funds will be utilized.
What is refreshing is that this process worked exactly as our representative form of government is supposed to work. On one side we had a mayor wanting to maximize public services with public dollars and on the other side we had council members wanting to control the cost of local government. Both sides were trying to honor the wishes of their constituents as they saw them.
The discussion was civil and set a good example for the leaders of the U.S. House and Senate, who have taken inflexible positions on their budget and take every opportunity to excoriate each other on the most minor of budgetary points.
We are grateful that the budgetary impasse was resolved quickly and in a sane way this year. However, when we look toward the future, we would like to see the council members and the mayor continue to work on a permanent solution for the funding of trash collection.
Given the recent example of cooperation, we think the time is right to start discussing what that solution should be.