It has been 18 years and 137 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.
On May 3, 2016 city council had another budget meeting. I am always surprised about councilmembers’ lack of in-depth questioning of senior staff about specific budget items. To be fair, Councilmembers Turner, Tolmachoff and Aldama are asking questions but are they the right ones? Just one would be to ask senior staff to justify the hiring of new employees (Full Time Employee, FTEs) being requested in the proposed budget. Specifically adding employees to the city’s core services, public safety, water, sewer and sanitation is a no-brainer and should be approved for they comprise essential city services. However, adding employees to non-essential services should have been thoroughly vetted by council.
I have a lot of questions about the proposed budget but without serving on city council it becomes an exercise in futility for the average Glendale citizen to get any meaningful answers. Instead I offer some observations about the May 3rd session.
Senior staff recommended that three council identified requests go back to the
appropriate citizen board or commission with yet another subsequent city council workshop. An increase in library hours will go back to the Library Advisory Board. When library hours were cut it was just announced by the city as a cost saving measure and no citizen input was sought. The repair/replacement or even necessity for the O’Neil Pool will go back to the Parks and Recreation Commission. When the pool was closed due to leaks it was simply announced by the city and no citizen input was sought. Heroes Park is scheduled to receive a $50,000 reevaluation of its Master Plan and it will go to the Parks and Recreation Commission. The city never
announced its inattention to Heroes Park, it simply ignored it for 18 years. I can tell you what the result of this $50,000 study will be: citizens will say overwhelmingly complete the darn park; build the ball fields, the dog park, the urban fishing lake, a permanent branch library building and an aquatics and recreation center. It appears that city is betting through this wasteful study that citizens will be willing to settle for less in this park.
What is more troublesome is that when senior staff deems something to be a priority, it is accomplished…quickly…and money is no object. Take the need to meet the parking requirements for the football stadium. Senior staff was able to identify the necessary debt capacity of $32 million dollars, purchased the necessary land for $22 million and has already begun construction on the actual parking lots for another $10 million. The entire project will be completed in less than a year.
When it is not a senior staff priority the issue gets punted…er, delayed. Hence the maneuver to send back to citizen boards and commissions the very projects that enhance the quality of life for citizens in our community…extended library hours, reopening of O’Neil Pool and completion of Heroes Park with a definitive timeline. It appears as if it’s not a senior staff priority…you can forget it for a long time.
It’s time for city council to stamp its feet, have a hissy fit and insist that these projects get the attention they deserve…long overdue.
© Joyce Clark, 2016
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