A political pigeonhole

City officials revised the projected budget shortfall this week to $9.9 million, roughly $3 million more than the working number in April, when three City Council members who now sit on the dais pledged to not touch public safety funding.

Now that the budget is upon us, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is threatening to withhold nearly $2 billion from cities, and the economy is still sputtering. Seems campaign promises are on a collision course with reality in the coming weeks when the City Council must decide where to cut in order to bridge Glendale’s yawning budget gap.

No one wants to see layoffs. And no one wants to see important crime-prevention programs disappear. There’s a reason Glendale is consistently ranked as one of the safest cities for its size in the nation, and why the our Class 1 Fire Department is looked to as a lead agency in the region.

But the budget figures continue to get worse, and there’s no reason to believe they will improve any time soon. While police and fire services are essential, so is trash pick up, code enforcement and a host of other programs that combine to make Glendale the city everyone loves.

Under any deficit forecast, the City Council would face the unenviable task of having to balance cuts among the city’s 16 divisions, but with the majority of its members clearly on the record as being against touching public safety — which makes up the lion’s share of the general fund — the process is now even more complicated.

It will be impossible to protect police and fire without decimating other vital services. The council knows this. So let’s skip the political banter, roll up our sleeves, and make the hard decisions we’re all dreading.

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