Our Opinion: City budget change for the better

Despite trepidation among some elected officials, we agree with plans to post the Jefferson City administrator’s proposed budget.

Although consensus exists that the administrator’s proposal is a public document, past practice has kept it close to the mayor’s vest until revealed publicly to the City Council.

This year, Administrator Nathan Nickolaus intends to post his budget proposal online in mid–May, according to interim Finance Director Bill Betts.

The mayor typically unveils a proposed budget in late June or July, and the council must act before the fiscal year begins on Nov. 1.

Second Ward Councilman and Finance Committee Chairman Shawn Schulte fears the change “might create some false expectations, either positively or negatively.”

We do not share those fears.

Full disclosure of city budget plans deserves to be commended, not criticized.

Proposed action – whether by an elected or appointed government official – creates expectations, which are nothing more than reactions among residents.

Discussion and debate about those expectations helps, rather than hinders, policy decisions.

City officials, as we have noted, absorbed a public pummeling concerning a $1.68 million budget shortfall revealed earlier this year.

And, in this forum last week, we piled on with criticism of funding reallocation by staff without disclosing the action to all council members, including Schulte.

We perceive the administrator’s early public disclosure of the budget proposal as a change for the better.

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