December 7, 2010
Budget keeps service, reflects priorities
Last December, as the City Council pieced together a tight budget for 2010, Mayor Ava Frisinger described the spending plan as lean but not mean. The same could be said for the proposed 2011 budget expected to be passed Dec. 20.
The plan for the coming year is a reflection of residents’ priorities and council members’ goals. Though some of the ideas recommended by the council seem destined to wither before winter is over, the overall plan is smart.
The council spent a good deal of time discussing transportation, a critical issue in gridlocked Issaquah. Members’ recommendations to the mayor include a smart and savvy blend of transportation projects that can be completed in the near future.
The decision to shift dollars used to pay for large-scale transportation projects to small projects, like filling potholes, is wise. The city should focus on such small, doable projects until the region emerges from the economic downturn or designated grant money becomes available.
The prospect of fares on the free bus in downtown Issaquah is harder to accept, just when the free bus is needed more than ever by more people than ever. But the decision to collect fares on Route 200 buses is a sign of the tough times. Dollars raised through the fares could help expand services in underserved areas of the city, such as Squak Mountain.
In the last couple of years, budget cuts have been made to some of the city’s niceties — like lights for a holiday tree and summer flower baskets — but we would bet few residents could say that the important services have slipped. Police and fire protection, clean water, parks and more are still top notch.
Kudos to Frisinger, City Council members and employees for holding a firm line on expenses. Issaquah is a bastion of sound financial management in a county and state crippled by nearsighted spending decisions and unrealistic budgets.