The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

March 14, 2014

Balancing act not easy

The Commercial-News

---- — Danville City Council members, like their counterparts in every community, must deal with putting together an annual budget that holds the line on taxes levied against residents yet maintains the services residents want.

That’s a difficult task in any year, but especially show as costs increase while property value — the basis on which property taxes are determined — shrink in many cases.

Danville aldermen and Mayor Scott Eisenhauer hope to find a way to erase a projected $800,000 deficit in the next city budget. One of the proposals, after a plan to lay off firefighters drew little support and much opposition, is to charge a fee when fire department personnel respond to medical calls.

Firefighters provide this service even if another ambulance is responding and at no additional cost to residents. Officials hope the proposed $300 fee will erase more than a fourth of the projected deficit.

It seems a reasonable proposal, with the fire department recapturing some of its costs. Most of the calls to which firefighters respond are medical calls.

This balancing act between tax revenue and providing services isn’t easy. Is the service still needed? Can it be performed better in another way? City council members, and their counterparts at all levels of government, owe it to their constituents to go over budgets line by line and decide whether to spend the money.