“It really is all about engagement,” said Bob Breneman, Wooster’s mayor. “As a city, we are going to have to make some difficult decisions, and we want the opinions, thoughts and ideas of our residents. Before putting anything on the ballot, we first need to hear from the community.” In that regard, city officials have declared that a ballot issue will not be proposed in November.
Due to current financial realities that include a significant reduction in traditional state funding, the city is at a crossroads. Public officials will need to decide the best course of action: whether to continue cutting services, or seek an income tax increase, or a combination of both. The city government is committed to seeking community input through this extensive engagement process as to how its citizens would like to proceed.
As a starting point for this community discussion, the mayor has prepared a list of cuts that would need to be made if new funds are not secured. Potential cuts include:
- Reduction of services provided by the police department. As four positions would need to be reduced in the police department, the department will only be able to respond to crimes in progress.
- Elimination of city-sponsored recreation programs, including youth and adult athletic programs in the fall of 2013, as a result of the elimination of four positions in the recreation division.
- Reduction of services provided by the fire department. As six positions would need to be reduced, response times will be longer, especially from Station 2, which services the north end of the city.
- Closure of Knight’s Field sprayground and one of the two remaining pools in 2014.
- Elimination of subsidized taxi service.
“As a city, we have some difficult decisions to make,” said Breneman. “We are faced with a bit of a double-edged sword. If we are vague about possible cuts, people will think we are being purposely secretive. On the other hand, if we are specific with the cuts that would need to be made if new money is not secured, we may be seen as threatening. We are going to err on the side of being specific and transparent. By releasing these potential cuts, we are establishing a baseline from which to begin a vibrant community dialogue. We hope our community will engage in that discussion.”
The city will be making numerous efforts to reach out to the community, but community members and groups are encouraged to reach out, as well. The goal of the engagement process is to gather as many opinions from the community as possible in order to make the most responsible and beneficial fiscal decisions. To set up a meeting with the mayor, contact Cheryl Collins at 330-263-5200.
For more information about the city of Wooster, visit http://www.woosteroh.com.
Published: May 23, 2012