Thursday, November 20, 2008

Mesa cutting jobs and reducing services

The City of Mesa is looking to cut 346 jobs and reduce hours including moving to a 4 day work week. The Tribune does a very in depth look at the cuts giving even more details. Looks like nothing is going to be spared, and the City is looking for different ways to offer services more efficiently.

First, this is not that big of a surprise. We knew for months that the economy was sagging and the council has said all along that cuts were coming. When we see businesses across the country from automakers to retailers failing, it should not be shocking that a city that depends on sales tax would be in some major financial trouble.

Its natural for residents to be upset in the reduction of services especially in quality of life items such as libraries and afterschool programs. The question is, what would you cut instead? Living within your means sometimes requires cutting out luxury items to keep the household running. You wouldn't sacrifice food on the table to keep cable tv would you?

You would prefer to do it under better circumstances, but reevaluating what services the city should provide and the function of government is necessary. Replacing big trucks with smaller responders in some emergency situations makes sense. Cross training employees who are not as busy right now makes sense as well.

Sometimes change is hard - especially when it is applied to government. Its our inclination to think that the government shouldn't be effected by the same things that harm private businesses. If they offered something in the past, they should continue to do so in perpetuity in addition to doing even more. That is why government tends to grow.

However, change is necessary to keep up. Look at the average video store. If you recall, 20 or so years ago, most stores offered both VHS and Beta. Then they offered VHS exclusively. When DVDs came out, they devoted a small corner. Soon, it was half DVD and half VHS. As the market changed, they went to nearly all DVD. Then as they received competition from online sources and retailers selling DVDs cheap, they have changed their model again, offering videos to rent and purchase. Last time I was in the video store, they were trying to sell the Rockband videogame at the checkout counter.

Is this enough for Mesa to keep up? We'll see. Its going to be an interesting juxtaposition between the streamlining of Mesa government and the likely growth of the Federal government under the new administration.

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