City’s Shallow Pockets Don’t Limit Requests at Retreat

City Manager Bill Watkins is on his fourth Diet Mountain Dew, and Mayor Bob McDavid has been trying to chew through the ear piece of his glasses during this morning’s meetings of the Columbia City Council at its annual retreat.

Watkins has been emphasizing that the city needs to stretch every dollar, but it seems every department is asking for more money.

Fire Chief Bill Markgraf said he needs new tools; mobile data stations for vehicles; new fire engines and ladder trucks (firefighters now can reach only 93.2 feet); and other vehicles to replace parts of the fleet that have reached the end of their useful lives.

Police Chief Ken Burton wants more supervisors, sergeants, dogs and detectives.

Director of the Office of Emergency Management Zim Schwartze wants more operators, new equipment to meet Federal Communications Commission regulations by 2013 and a backup center. Not to mention storage and bandwidth for public safety records storage, and funding to integrate geographic information systems into every level of dispatch and records keeping.

Watkins reiterated that the budget is a zero-sum game right now, that there has to be give and take and that some of the things requested simply aren’t necessary — yet.

Needless to say, the budgeting process for fiscal 2011 is going to be a doozy.

UPDATE: On a positive note, the council members seem to be thriving amidst all the stress.  Barbara Hoppe, Laura Nauser, Gary Kespohl and even your humble reporter found time for a short debate on thermostat settings. We’ve settled at 68 degrees for now.

UPDATE: Columbia City Council member Barbara Hoppe wants to point out that we settled at 72 degrees in the end. Hoppe said it is important to set your thermostat higher in the summer to save energy. Hoppe said in the summer she sets hers at 80.

2 Responses

  1. We need to educate our elected officials on the health dangers of drinking soda? What happened to good ole water.

  2. Thanks for this great service. Saw the reference in my morning paper

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