Residents need to yell for their favorite programs

As the City Council works to bridge a projected $18-mililon budget gap for next fiscal year, services that residents consider quality-of-life measures could take a disproportionate hit — that is, if no one speaks up.

Penny carnivals in underserved neighborhoods, park programs, libraries, youth services — many of the things that people associated with living in a vibrant, responsive city may be sharply curtailed under preliminary budget proposals floating around City Hall.

If that’s troubling, then now is the time to raise your voice. The City Council has begun its lengthy, and public, hearing process where department executives are being asked to justify why they think certain programs are less important than others.

Don’t wait until June — after City Hall has cut, rearranged and sewn together a new budget after hours and hours of debate — and expect officials to reverse course.

Transfers and hiring freezes will only go so far this time. With an $18-million gap looming, real cuts will surely have to be made this year.

Now is the time to make your opinion heard on what, as taxpayers, you feel should be the city’s spending priorities.

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