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City asks residents to decide on cuts

Jack Zhu places a sticker next to an item on a list of city services, to show what he wants the City Council to preserve or cut. Fred Gladdis/Enterprise photo

By
From page A1 | August 31, 2011 |

Despite having an “insatiable appetite for services,” Davis residents have to kill some government programs, maybe even some they love, so more important ones survive, city officials said.

The question is: What are the most important? Some 20 people answered the city’s call to come to Veterans’ Memorial Center Tuesday night to give advice on how the City Council should cut $2.5 million from this year’s budget.

The city needs that money, $1 million of which will chip away at neglected roads needing $20 million in repairs, said Mayor Joe Krovoza in an email to the Enterprise. The city would sock away the remaining $1.5 million to pay for swelling retirement and health benefits of city employees.

However, officials also sought the public’s guidance for where money should go in the coming years, but the questions are the same: What can you give up? What do you absolutely want to keep?

“Something’s got to give,” said Interim City Manager Paul Navazio, “when we end up with a finite amount of resources in a community that has an insatiable appetite for services across the board.”

Nancy Bodily doesn’t want to give up anything.

“I love everything about this community,” she said. “I don’t want to take anything away. When we take away people’s services, we take away peoples’ jobs.”

However, she’s willing to pay to keep those services — whether it’s police officers locking up criminals, firefighters dousing blazes or lawnmowers sprucing up the greenbelt — and thinks the well-to-do should pony up, too. A family of four raking in more than $100,000 can afford to pay a little extra each month to maintain the entire community’s quality of life.

“I have no idea what I would cut,” she said. “Honest.”

Not the police department or youth programs, said Sandy Sokolow, a Central Davis resident and police department volunteer for about a decade. Emergency services are critical.

“I had an emergency back in 1981,” she said. “You don’t how good those sirens sounded.”

Programs that keep kids out of trouble should also get money, she added. “You stop crimes from happening and save kids from the criminal justice system.”

Tuesday night represented a shake-up in the city’s strategy for dealing with having less cash, whether it’s lower sales and property taxes or declining state and federal funds, said Mayor Pro Tem Rochelle Swanson.

Thus far, the city has nicked services across the board, hoping the economy would rebound and salve the cuts.

But the cuts are still coming, and they’re going to continue.

“No one here is saying we’re out of the woods,” Navazio said, “and I haven’t seen a light at the end of the tunnel yet.”

Further across-the-board cuts will jeopardize certain programs, possibly some of the most important, Swanson said. It’s time to figure out what the city of Davis will do for its residents, and what it won’t.

“We can’t keep cutting a little here and a little there,” Swanson said. “We’re going to make some serious changes. We want to make sure the cuts are what the community wants, what the community needs.”

Residents have another chance to voice their priorities. The city will host a second open house from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 7, at the Veterans’ Memorial Center, 203 E. 14th St.

— Reach Jonathan Edwards at jedwards@davisenterprise.net or (530) 747-8052. Follow him on Twitter at @jon__edwards

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