With area cities in budget mode, it can be hard to think beyond the numbers.
Less is not more. State aid continues to dwindle and market changes affect city operations and plans for improvement.
Many communities are working to make-do. St. Joseph is no exception but continues to look ahead to the future.
St. Joseph officials recently set a preliminary budget for 2013. City council members on Sept. 6 approved a higher preliminary budget than this year in an effort to maintain city services and get delayed projects back on schedule.
The 2013 preliminary general fund budget is about $2.42 million. That reflects an increase of 7.8 percent from this year, St. Joseph Finance Director Lori Bartlett said. The 2012 budget was about $2.25 million, 13.6 percent less than 2011.
In addition to the budget talks, there have also been plans to bring a community center to the city – something residents voted for previously.
During a recent work session of the city council and facilities committee, officials set a date for an open house to discuss the progress of plans for a proposed community center. The seven residents who attended were happy to have a chance to learn more about the project.
Hopefully, more than seven people will come to the open house slated for Sept. 26. The St. Joseph City Council meets at 7 p.m. on the first and third Thursday of the month. The city’s planning commission meets at 7 p.m. on the first Monday of the month and the Economic Development Authority meets at 5 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of each month. Often the people serving on these boards are the only ones at the meeting depending on the agenda. While schedules are busy and there doesn’t seem to be enough time in one day, it is crucial to show up before decisions are made.
A community center will be a good addition to the city. To make it happen, residents need to be a part of the process to bring it to fruition. While it could be a part of a new government center, the center would not only bring residents together for events but invite visitors to the city as well. There could also be a source of income for the city from renting the space for events.
A community center serves as a hub for interaction, socializing and unity. As officials work with construction-management firms to develop a vision for a community center, residents should join the conversation. After all, it will be in your city.
The open house will be at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 26 at City Hall. Be there. Be involved.