Kadrich tightens the city’s belt

Although the city of Grand Junction is a long way from facing the sort of massive budget shortfall that now confronts state government officials, City Manager Laurie Kadrich has ordered department heads at the city to curtail spending in the first quarter of this year.

That’s entirely appropriate, given the uncertainty surrounding the economy. It makes sense to slow down spending now, and keep the saved revenue in reserve, rather than having to scramble to cut spending if revenue begins to plummet.

Additionally, if city officials decide to ask voters this year to approve a tax increase to build a scaled-down version of last year’s proposed public-safety building, they will need to demonstrate to voters that they are careful stewards of the money they already receive.

The public-safety ballot measures were rejected by city voters last November for a variety of reasons, including the convoluted wording of the two measures and the clear signs then that the U.S. economy was tumbling toward a recession.

But we believe the city’s mid-October discussion of raising fees for things like water, trash, recreational activities and parking, rather than reducing spending in those areas, sent exactly the wrong message to voters just a few weeks before the election.

Now Kadrich is placing a freeze on new spending — postponing the hiring of 14 non-essential employees and the purchase of new vehicles. The city will also delay work on several planned capital projects that are not yet under way.

Although this region has weathered the economic storm better than many parts of the country, the Grand Valley is not immune to the economic ailments the nation is facing.

With unemployment nationally predicted to hit 7 percent soon, with housing prices continuing to fall and with the state of Colorado facing a projected $600 million shortfall in the current budget, Kadrich is wise to rein in city spending. Future political questions aside, it is the right thing to do to keep the city on sound economic footing.


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