We had a great meeting in Boston and funded some solid environmental groups. We have not had to cut back on our grant making during these economic times. I think it is because of our focus and smart approach to getting real value for our expenditures.
Now as I return to Albuquerque I see that the budget crunch on city government is very real and decisions have to be made. As a former Mayor I will put in my two bits worth.
I think there can always be waste trimmed in any government budget. If elected officials who are in charge of the budget will look around they will find that waste and it will be easy to take care of it. But I feel that cutting city services is not an option. I am talking about basic services of public safety, environmental safeguards, parks and recreation and such. That is why I would be against any permanent slashing of services that citizens have become accustomed too. I think a furlough system for employees, much like the state is doing, is preferable to pay cuts. This way employees will not see their long years of service being lessened when retirement comes around. A three or four percent cut will really affect pensions and morale.
The city employees and their unions must understand that times are really hard and raising taxes to keep the status quo will not be accepted by the public taxpayers. So the unions must approach this responsibly. Level heads must prevail here. This may just be a two or three year problem as there are a few signs the economy is adding jobs which means tax revenues will go up. Since the city mainly relies on sales taxes for its revenues it will take a while for added spending to show up in city coffers. In the meantime everyone should just be patient.