Accordıng to the evenıng news, the recession has been declared officially over. While Scott Pelley may be technically correct on that count, we know that it has come at the cost of a paradigm shift: one that we are far from finished paying for yet.
In most places, layoff s and the elimination of positions through attrition has hit the minimum level of staffing needed for a department to remain operable. Unfortunately, “operable” now means accepting the fact that equipment is still being run two or more years past its recommended replacement date and that customer service is more difficult to provide than before due to those strained staffing levels. It’s also widely known that infrastructure itself took one of the biggest hits.
The Municipal reporters took a look this month at both traditional and innovative funding methods. We’ve asked a few people who know how the municipal bond market is holding up, for example. The answer is pretty well, although the interest cap discussion is likely to return another day.
Grant funding has become key in making ends meet, and Lauren Caggiano’s story notes that it can still help turn blighted neighborhoods into real estate that’s desirable and can be developed. Perhaps most interestingly, Denise Fedorow highlights in her article, “Civic crowdfunding,” that if residents recognize the value of a particular local project, they’ll often put a few dollars toward it. Websites now exist that will collect those funds, and they tend to cultivate interest and excitement in such initiatives. It’s certainly a tool to add to the proverbial toolbox.
We’re also pleased to present two festivals, one local and one regional, that have become significant sources of revenue for the cities in which they’re located. Not every summer gathering is profitable, of course, for its locale, but these two — Folkmoot USA in North Carolina and Hodag Country Festival in Wisconsin — have grown into hugely popular, priority destination events that actually translate into profit for their hosts. They look like a darn good time, too.
We hope you’ll take a look, and we also hope that this month kicks off a summer of good news for your department’s budget. According to the news, 2015–16 will slowly continue our road back to financial stability. I’d like to hold my colleagues at the news stations to that.