What else can be said about the proposed $166.6 million city budget for 2013, which is up 95 percent from 2012. Yep, we said 95 percent.
Granted, some of the spending increase is actually $57 million in federal Community Development Block?Grant funding, but the proposed budget is still a whopper of a document.
The preliminary figures given to city council members recently don't include potential new staff positions. An alternate budget would request 62.5 new city positions, at a cost of nearly $4.4 million.
City Manager David Waind, in something of an understatement, acknowledged "This will be a very difficult budget."
Waind isn't kidding.
These are extraordinary times in our city's history, with growth happening at breakneck speed, coupled with uncertainty forced upon residents by the 2011 Souris River flood. Some items in the proposed budget reflect the need for the city to catch up with the booming population and the city's expanding physical size, with requests for additional staff in several city departments, notably the police department and fire department, along with requests for new and additional equipment.
It's a fine line to walk for aldermen who will be tasked with sorting through the massive budget, deciding which "urgent" needs should be funded now and which needs can wait a little longer. Aldermen have listened to some citizens complain about the city not having enough police officers on the street to deter crime or manage traffic, and now they will listen to some of those same citizens complain about the large budget request for more police officers.
These are unprecedented situations in Minot. Crafting a 2013 budget that at least begins to address the city's pressing needs while not unfairly burdening our citizens won't be easy, or cheap.