I was out on the bike today, a beautiful late summer afternoon, and saw a wooly-worm crossing CR 350S
It was light brown with not one bit of black on it. Now many wise prognosticators suggest that this is an indication for a mild winter. I will take any sign, scientific or not, that gives us a break from the extreme conditions that pushed us all to the limit this past winter.
Our city council is in the process of working to balance our budget. A mild winter would not only benefit the wooly-worm, it would take some pressure off of the costs associated with moving massive amounts of snow in bitter cold. And that’s just one example of the variables and uncertainties that impact spending and revenue.
Balance is the key here. The cost of supplies and services continues to rise faster than revenues. That creates imbalance. Roads deteriorate faster than they can be repaired. Everyone wants his or her streets to be smooth. Something has got to give. Extreme weather deteriorates not only roads but equipment as well.  Maintenance costs to repair those trucks skyrockets with the salt price. Salt is up 40 percent after last winter (something doesn’t smell right about that kind of increase).
City employees need to be compensated fairly. Just like our budget, rising costs need to be considered when salaries are evaluated. Rising health care benefit premiums also need to be addressed. While employer coverage of those increasing premiums provides an indirect raise for the employees, plan changes and employee contribution changes are necessary to contain those costs.
It is vital that the city continue to search for other cost savings to stem the revenue crunch. Our traditional curbside waste service, recycling program and yard waste pickup has provided our citizens with reliable service for many years. But costs continue to rise. Newer technology is now available to provide greater cost efficiencies without sacrificing service.  We will continue to move toward those technologies. We are also moving toward newer technology for salt application and road clearing. More efficient application strategy will be critical to help compensate for the increased salt price.
We will also promote growth as a key to sustainability. It is critical to develop our Technology Park, improve our streets and neighborhoods and maintain the amenities that make our community home to both families and industry. All of these improvements are expected by our community and add further urgency to an effective spending plan and well thought-out capital improvement plan.
The necessity of a third fire station to service the south end of the city and Wayne Township is a project that must continue to progress. Safety, service and insurance rates justify this project.  Equipment and staffing of this new station will also be planned and budgeted for.
Our city is in sound financial shape.  But growth, sluggish revenue and aging infrastructure demand diligence. We must address these issues today.
Prognosticating costs and revenues is no different than predicting the weather.  We use historical data and current trends to develop a budget plan. We will do our best. Sometimes we hope for partly cloudy and we get wet. Other times we get a little sunshine.