I’m very concerned with what has been reported by the Daily Sun about the Flagstaff City Council’s comments and considerations on future budgets and spending.
They and staff spoke of “trimming” the budgets where they can. It’s obvious that city revenue will be seriously effect by the pandemic, especially since tourism, development, housing, lodging, dining, services, activity fees are the bedrock of the city’s revenue.
Council should be discussing more than “trimming costs” and should be discussing what are the essential services and what are not. The citizens want those essential services to be at the top of the list and for the city’s leaders to make the hard decisions on reducing costs, possibly slashing costs and if necessary raising taxes. Across the board, budget reductions never seem to work. Effective leaders focus on what is essential and reduce what is not. This is not going to be a short-term economic downturn. I urge our citizens to review the city’s 2019 budget to understand where our revenue and costs reside.
I also am disappointed that the council is considering kicking the Flagstaff public safety employees retirement obligation down the road, especially using a “consolidation loan” from Steifel. Borrowing $112 million and pledging the city’s utilities just to reduce the debt service fees is not leadership. It’s putting off the hard decisions.
Cut costs, raise taxes and pay the debt down is what has to be done. Of course it will mean reducing nonessential services and funding. But that is what will be needed and what leaders do.
My wife and I get takeout from local restaurants once or twice a week to help support them at this difficult time. I want to thank those restaurants that require employees to wear masks at the very least when they interact with customers. These are the restaurants we will continue to support. We feel the same way about any business open during this time.
Sadly, there are several restaurants in Flagstaff that do not value the safety of their customers nor their employees by requiring them to wear masks. Each time we interact with employees not wearing masks, we cross that restaurant off our list. We will not support them even if restrictions are lifted.
The virus has not gone away. Social distancing and masks are the only things keeping us safe. There is no cure and there is no vaccine yet. I strongly encourage all businesses in Flagstaff to require their employees wear masks when in close proximity to others, especially the public. This is also the best way to show support for all the healthcare workers and first responders taking care of us.