Maxed Out 

Cinching up once again

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"The current approach has been to tighten belts."

- Hizzonor, the Mayor

 

My belt's out of holes. There's nothing left to tighten. I notched down a hole or two when the stealth budget slid under the radar a couple of years ago, another after the two-fer budget before the Olympics. The mayor and council dismissing as "tokenism" the idea of leading by example and foregoing their own pay raises pissed me off enough I punched right through the leather where there had been no hole. I have more belt hanging outside the buckle than around my waist.

Time for a new belt.

But right now, I'm not sure I want to spend money on a new belt. With no automatic pay raise on the horizon funds are, how shall I put this, a lot tighter than my belt. Besides, the old one still holds up my jeans. With a sharp knife I can cut off the part that dangles comically down my leg. If I carefully hone the barrel of the empty Bic pen I found the other day I can probably punch a new hole or two further into the leather. Heck, with a little ingenuity and a make-do attitude I'm sure I can make this belt last a lot longer than most of our decision makers are likely to be making decisions for us.

Or I could adopt the RMOW strategy. I could hire a consultant - no, maybe two consultants - to study the problem, work up a comprehensive trouser-retention plan, hire a marketing firm to ask a cross-section of the community what they should think about the plan, strike a task force to discuss the desirable outcomes of the plan, let the plan languish in departmental infighting for a couple of years, rehire the consultants to update the plan and, finally, hire a couple of new staff to execute the plan and report back to council on its success.

Screw it. I'm just gonna see if there are any suspenders at the Re-Use-It Centre.

We're deep into Adventures in Budgetland. The continuing saga of straw men, horny dilemmas and This Year's Unexpected Shortfall - I'm shocked, shocked to discover transit costs are up and parking revenue is down - has settled on our happy mountain home as predictably as the stormy snows of December. Just as predictably, we're faced with the tired old saw about raising taxes or cutting services. That box seems to get smaller each year, while the likelihood our leaders will begin to think outside it vanishes like a cheap magician's trick.

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