News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Council on right track in seeking major changes

Mayor Don Kyle and city councilmen paid plenty of lip service this week to the need for major changes in the way the city operates in the face of costs rising faster than revenue.

Now the mayor and council need to be more specific.

Mr. Kyle's $47.7 million budget request for 2006, which is within 2 percent of this year's operating budget and limits spending to existing levels of revenue, is a good starting point. Although it contains unpopular cuts — namely to the Economic Development Association, the Convention and Visitors Bureau and area charitable agencies — it is an austere yet responsible plan and a good place to begin discussions.

Councilman Ronny Russell and Council President Billy Jackson on Tuesday asked the mayor to develop something creative to deal with rising personnel costs, which make up a majority of the city's expenses. Both mentioned reallocations and consolidations of city personnel and departments, similar to this year's blending of Engineering with Public Works or Landscaping and Beautification with Parks and Recreation.

Those consolidations appear to have been successful, with better coordination of duties and potential long-term savings on equipment.

Another major question is whether to lease major purchases or to borrow money to pay for them.

Mr. Kyle said he has some "pretty strong ideas that will be a radical change," but added that he is not yet willing to formally propose them.

We would like to see them brought to the table for discussion.

Outside-the-box thinking would be good for a process that has too long been stuck in the "that's the way we've always done it" mode.

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