When the City Council brought up the possibility of restoring funding for a popular after-school program, it foreshadowed the tough budgeting decisions yet to come.
The middle school program's $52,000 in city funding was cut last year as City Hall grappled with a multimillion-dollar budget gap, one that could reopen next fiscal year to the tune of $8.8 million. That sets the stage of equally unpalatable funding decisions that could spell the end of popular service programs.
But those budget-cutting decisions will be tainted by City Hall's staunch defense of a nearly $1.9-million budget for employee bonuses. It will be hard to take the City Council's decision to shovel something like a $52,000 after-school program on an already struggling nonprofit community when executives keep handing out more than $1 million in bonuses to city employees.