THUMBS UP: The New Ulm City Council got a look this week at a big list of potential budget cuts and adjustments, a list totalling $956,000. This is the point in the budget process when everything should be on the table. There shouldn't be any sacred cows.
The largest item on the list is bonding $375,000 more for street improvements. The city usually pays out of the street fund for repairs that aren't expected to last the ten years it takes to pay off the bonds.
This would not actually be a budget savings. It would push the cost down the road, and create more interest expense that paying cash up front.
The council is also looking at reductions in subsidies for some local organizations like the Concord Singers, local festivals and the New Ulm Battery. In tough times it is, again, good to look at all possible cuts. We would like to point out, however, that the cuts proposed for those three organizations are less than the amount of pay increases the council voted itself in July. As we said before, that would be a good place to start, by rescinding that raise.
THUMBS UP: We are mightily impressed with Arman Moll, the 99-year-old New Ulmite who completed another CROP Walk last Sunday. Moll, we understand, set a pretty good pace over the two-mile walk.
Moll will be turning 100 pretty soon, and he says that's a pretty good time to start taking it a little easier, so this was his last CROP?Walk. He has been in every one held since local organizers started holding one in New Ulm about 20 years ago. He still plans on taking his daily walks at Orchard Hills Assisted Living.
Moll serves as an inspiration to those of us who are a lot younger and a lot more sedentary. Well done, Mr. Moll!
Farm bill hangup
THUMBS DOWN: It is disappointing, but not unexpected, to see Congress fail to pass the Farm Bill. It appears that the bill, which has to be renewed every five years, is not going to b passed before its expiration date of Sept. 30.
While a lot of people, like congressional candidate Al Quist, see it only as a Food Stamp bill, and others see it as a welfare plan for wealthy farmers, it also contains some important conservation measures, like the Grasslands and Wetlands Reserve programs. Programs like these encourage farmers to return marginal croplands to wetlands and grasslands, and protects fragile grasslands from being converted to row crops.
But that sort of thing is secondary to the partisan one-upsmanship that passes for statesmanship in Washington these days. It is a shame, and Congress' failure may carry bigger costs down the road if these programs are allowed to expire.