As the deadline approaches for Mayor Mike McGinn's midyear budget cuts (McGinn has asked city departments to come up with $12 million or so in cuts to make up for an unanticipated midyear budget shortfall), it's becoming clear that this year's cuts probably won't be as deep or devastating as some have speculated.
At two recent public hearings on the budget, supporters of human services, community centers, food assistance programs, and parks have turned out to beg the council and mayor to save their programs. Parks supporters lamented that the city planned to close pools, community centers, and specialized programs for the disabled; human-services backers, meanwhile, argued that operating facilities like parks shouldn't come before basic human needs.
Now, it looks like the short-term changes will be more incremental: Cuts to wading-pool hours here, a reduction in the library's collections budget, which pays for new books and other materials, there. Parks may be maintained less rigorously and trash picked up less frequently, but no parks are likely to shut down, and a proposal by the city's transportation department to increase fees for parades and community events is similarly likely to go nowhere.
One area McGinn has reportedly proposed cutting that does have a powerful, and vocal, council supporter is food security—a top priority of council president Richard Conlin. Reportedly, McGinn has targeted some of Conlin's pet projects (which include expanding community gardens, providing more space for farmers' markets, and increasing food composting opportunities) for his midyear budget cuts. Conlin has asked for, but not received, a briefing from McGinn's staff on the budget; he has not yet returned a call for comment on the potential cuts.
McGinn has said he'll announce his list of proposed cuts in early June.