Happy New Year! I cannot tell you how honored I am to serve as your mayor for another year. There is a lot we would like to accomplish in the next 12 months – enacting the climate action plan, making sure city services have what they need to meet our needs, supporting families and doing what we can to address our housing crisis, expanding infrastructure, provide resources to local businesses. The list goes on and on.
Throughout the year, we all contribute to the city coffers; we pay taxes to support community-wide services for the common good. I can’t fund a fire department myself, but together we can and by doing so protect our town and our beloved pine forest. A single business may not be able to build and maintain a school system, but the educated workforce that a strong school system creates is invaluable.
This is what I think about as we take on step No. 1: making sure the city is serving the community to the best of our ability. Before we can get to work, we must create a budget. More than anything else that we do as a council, the budget reflects our priorities and values.
We set aside money for infrastructure because we know that when you turn on the tap you need water to come out of it. We know you need your trash picked up. We recognize the need for water conservation so we set aside money for that. We know that quality, affordable afterschool care not only helps kids and parents, it’s beneficial to the whole community, so we set aside money for that. The budget is about saying we, as a community, need this (economic development for example), and we’re going to make that happen in our community by doing this (whether that is cutting corporate taxes or investing in education). It’s a practical document.
The city budget tells us how we’ll make Flagstaff even better in the next year. It’s not a document meant to reflect the pet projects of council members. It’s not meant to reflect the priorities of lobbyists or politicians from other branches of government. It is created with city staff, but not for city staff.
I’ll level with you – the process is not fun. We go on a retreat, which is a nice way of saying they lock us in a room for an extended period. The budget is not ours, it’s yours. The city government works to serve you, the people.
So, as this whole process gets started, let us know what’s working and what’s not. Where do you see the community’s greatest needs? Flagstaff is already an incredible place to live and an amazing community. How can we not only hold on to that, but make it even better? Please reach out anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. We’d love to hear from you!
Or, join me for Coffee with Coral and I’ll buy you a cup of coffee for your thoughts. We meet from 7:30 to 9 a.m., on the first Wednesday of every month at Miz Zip’s. FBN
By Coral Evans
Coral Evans is the mayor of Flagstaff.