Local Column: It's time to get another bone
Reporter Doug McMurdo has been in the news business for a while, and during that time he's sat through more than a few meetings of governing boards and gone through the budget process for school districts, towns, cities and counties.
So this tight budget that the Kingman City Council just balanced with a sales tax increase is not his first rodeo, just his first here.
With that in mind, I asked Doug how it was possible the Council had "cut to the bone" on spending when they said the same thing a year ago, before his arrival.
Doug had this answer: "Must be a different bone."
I'm inclined to agree. The story is the same each year when money is tight, with elected officials often saying they have done everything possible to cut spending and have no choice but to raise taxes.
Count me among the skeptical, especially after certain officials went all Obama on us and talked about cutting fire and police protection, because there was nothing else to cut.
Our beloved president, you'll recall, had a series of dire predictions if the sequester budget "cuts" came to pass. By now you all know the cuts are illusory, that Washington is spending more than last year, just not as much as some (most) politicians want.
In other words, if there is any pain involved with the sequester cuts, it's intentional.
There's no denying Kingman's budget is smaller. There's also no denying plenty could have been done before Council had no choice but to close fire stations and start trimming the KPD payroll.
That leaves us with a state sales tax that sunsets the same day the city sales tax begins, a half-cent decrease rather than a full cent when you shop in Kingman.
This leads, almost inevitably, to overt talk about a city of Kingman property tax. For years people have said voters would never reinstate a property tax they got rid of over 30 years ago.
Somehow, without that cushion of a property tax, Kingman managed to grow a city workforce in excess of 300 people - and give them a whopping across-the-board pay hike and new salary scale back when some thought the good times would never end.
Heck, the Council even signed on to support a known money-loser, Kingman Area Regional Transit. We are supposed to not mind the fact it doesn't come close to paying for itself because federal funds help sustain KART.
And now there's talk of a property tax. But $280 a year for a home valued at $100,000, as is now proposed, is a ridiculously high starting point.
Call me crazy, but I think it's time for our City Council to find another bone.