Tighten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy flight.  The city is planning its budget for 2010-11 and it’s not pretty.

Though there is a gap of only a quarter million dollars in a multi-million dollar budget, it is a shortfall that will present some choices many people will not like.  These are no ordinary or normal times and now is the time for all good citizens to come to the aid of their city.

Balancing the budget for the next fiscal year will mean at least laying off the equivalent of a full-time employee which most likely will come from the ranks of the police department.  To reach its goal of cutting $250,000 the city is also looking at raising fees.

The initial reaction will be ‘don’t raise fees’ and ‘don’t cut police.’  Without those options it is hard to see how the city can balance its books.  We would prefer that no one lose their job but that is probably one of the choices that has to be made.  There will be an uproar from the public if a police officer position is cut.

Some say that personnel should be cut from other departments first.  Others say that salaries should be cut or frozen.  Regardless of what is considered, the pain of the budget cuts should  be shared by every department.

It would be nice if budget cuts did not affect Keizer residents.  But be affected they will, by higher water and sewer rates, higher fees, and fewer man-hours maintaining our city parks.  The economic chickens have come home to roost in Keizer and the sooner we all accept that fact the sooner we can face what it means for each household.

All cuts made for the next budget year should be mandated for no longer than one year.  The economy may be stronger a year from now and if it’s not, the cuts and the increased fees can be extended for another year at that time.

Cutting a quarter million dollars from the budget is not as easy as it may appear.  Cutting one full-time police officer only gets to $55,000.  That leaves $195,000 more to cut.  That will need to be done with increased fees, reduced services and cutting stipends to public arts and the community library.

It is pain that we will all share.  But economic pain is something many Keizer households are already feeling, caused by reduced value of homes, loss of jobs, reduced salaries and more.

No one wants their cops taken away; no one wants to see dirty streets; no one wants to pay more for water or sewer.  But for the next year all of Keizer will have to face the financial realities of our fiscal situation.  If there are to be cuts, let them be as painless as possible and let everyone pitch in and say “We’ll help and do our part.”

—LAZ