Public deserves a second chance for input on budget | IN OUR OPINION

Bainbridge Island will hold a public hearing next week on the city’s biennial budget for 2013-14.

Next year’s spending plan has been in a high state of flux since it was presented to the council in late September.

There have been numerous questions raised by the council about the spending plan, and the queries have ranged from major (details on the Surface and Stormwater Management Fund) to minor (the cost of city council retreats).

In recent weeks, Councilman Steve Bonkowski has suggested a substantial overhaul of the budget prepared by city staff.

He has proposed a mix of new ideas and old, and while some seem like non-starters — such as doing away with the vehicle take-home policy for police officers — the councilman’s ideas warrant serious research and discussion.

It’s because of these suggested changes, and others that have been made and ones sure to come next week, that we suggest that it would be prudent for the city to schedule a second public hearing on the budget before the council adopts its spending plan.

Too often we have seen in the past this council — and other elected boards, to be sure — hold a public hearing only to take action that same night to approve a major piece of legislation. Such speed typically leaves in its parting dust any thoughtful suggestions made by We the People during public hearings.

By law, the city must adopt its budget before year’s end.

We suggest there remains ample time for a final hearing, after the 2012-13 budget is in a more finished state, for the city to obtain public comment on our Bainbridge Island budget.


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