Park City budget deserves Treasure-like exercise even without a Treasure-like reward
It was the spring of 2018 and Mayor Andy Beerman and the Park City Council had already reached an agreement to acquire the Treasure hillside for conservation purposes, a $64 million deal that needed to be funded.
The elected officials entered City Hall’s budget season with a sense of urgency, perhaps even determination, that has been rare in the annual financial talks since the darkest days of the recession that already seem so long ago. They, essentially, used the budget negotiations to move funds around in an effort to reduce the price tag of the ballot measure that would be put to voters on Election Day that year.
The thinking was, of course, the Park City electorate would be more willing to support the ballot measure if the number was smaller. The process worked well as the mayor and City Councilors eventually settled on a $48 million ballot measure, which was overwhelmingly approved last November.
As the 2019 budget talks begin a year later, the community should expect the same urgency, the same determination, that was on display a year ago. The maneuvers in 2018 proved there is flexibility in the City Hall budget, but it seems the elected officials were largely indifferent to that concept until they had a grand goal to pursue like the acquisition of Treasure. It is up to the people of Park City, then, to press for the same level of review by the elected officials and for the same tough questions to be asked about the budget.
The start of the budget season this year was placid and featured little discussion, although the first date of the talks is typically not the most substantive. Nobody provided public input. The City Council is scheduled to address budgetary issues – capital expenses, operating expenses, fees and the like — at meetings through June, before the expected adoption of the budget on June 20.
It is easy to be lulled away from a municipal item like the budget in a time of plenty like Park City continues to enjoy. But the elected officials are preparing to authorize a budget in the low nine digits. It is your money. That should trigger a Treasure-like exercise even without a Treasure-like reward at the end.