City of Mobile Finance Director Paul Wesch and his staff have crafted a well-intentioned city budget for FY 2020 at the direction of Mayor Sandy Stimpson. Thankfully, economic trends have not necessitated funding conundrums like last year when the Mobile Public Library and other area nonprofit performance contracts were facing possible financial reductions. In prior years, our elected city officials have reluctantly established budgetary priorities for some community services perceived needing greater financial commitment from our city’s treasury.
At first glance, with only a few exceptions such as Engineering, Fleet Management and the Convention Center, it appears most city departments are in the aggregate level-funded and in some instances are expanding service capacity. Restructuring departments has affected individual line item budget allocations, but in the aggregate, increases in projected revenue are sustaining funds to meet most past, and many present, service level needs.
City employees and public safety workers have received cost-of-living raises, capital improvements to infrastructure have improved the average citizen’s quality of life, and the city’s reduced city debt liabilities have ameliorated future generations’ tax burden. Our belt-tightening has benefitted many, BUT NOT ALL.
Past funding reductions to public transportation and community services have made quality of life factors more stressful for our children, the disabled and area senior citizens. Our community leaders value subsidizing services that fuel economic growth such as $100,000 for the Saenger Theatre, $418,358 for the Azalea City Golf Course, $866,455 for the Tennis Center and $1.2 million for the Civic Center. So active Mobilians who contribute economically find services that increase their well-being.
But those citizens who are not employed are experiencing service reductions at community centers and on public transportation routes. We must envision One Mobile where everyone’s needs matter. Those who contribute non-economic gifts such as vitality, creativity and seasoned wisdom also need to share in our community’s distribution of resources.
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