American Culture

On flower pots and libraries

by Jennifer Angliss

My city, like many other municipalities these days, has a bit of a budget crunch. Expenses exceed income and so cuts must be made. One of the first things my city cut was the flower pots that decorate major intersections in the summers. To me, that seems like a reasonable cut. Yes, the flowers are beautiful. But they cost $20,000 per year (including water and labor costs). And at the same time, our library is struggling with its budget and has a hiring freeze, even with several open positions. In my opinion, if you’ve got an underfunded library it’s not wise to spend taxpayer money on flowers.

In the end, the Rotary Club took up the cause and donated money for the planters. Wonderful, I say. We get to keep the flowers without spending very much city money on them. They are still watered and tended by city workers who have been reassigned from jobs like weeding and picking up litter, but the bulk of the expense has been shouldered by the Rotary Club and private citizens.

However, (you knew there was a however coming, right?) I am a bit concerned about the attitudes of my fellow citizens on this. Clearly, not everyone shares my priorities. A sampling of the comments left on the various stories about these flowers:

Rotarians show the city what matters, even if its just flowers. Seems that the city needs a clue on what matters. Hurrah for community volunteers!

Yes, hurrah for community volunteers. But I’m thinking that the cutting of these pots from the city budget is a sign that the city DOES have a clue what matters.

Talk about out of touch with your citizens. Broomfield needs to listen to its citizens and find a way to put this in the budget.

As a citizen of Broomfield, I will support putting this back in the budget when we can fully fund our library, not before.

Eliminate a couple of part time positions and you’ve got your money. It’s all about priorities.When a city government prioritizes protecting it’s own staff versus providing for the town, somethings wrong. The core mission of a city government should be to provide services. It’s core mission is not to protect a job or two.

If the city was flush with cash, sure I could get on board with this. But we’re NOT. And yes, the city government should provide services. Like, oh, I don’t know….a staffed LIBRARY? Flowers are not a service, they are a nicety. When our family budget is in a crunch, the niceties are what get jettisoned first. And really? In this economy you put more value on some flower pots at intersections than you do on keeping people employed and off the public assistance rolls? Hmm.

Jennifer Angliss is a former teacher, now stay-at-home-mom and Tupperware lady living in the ‘burbs in Colorado.

Crosspost: Miscellaneous Musings

5 replies »

  1. Jeez. Tells you something when Joe/Jo Q. Every(wo)man can talk about layoffs like they were as easy as flushing a toilet. We’re just throwing each other in and saving our overlords the trouble now?

  2. How many planters does Broomfield have? $20,000 buys a lot of flowers. (Can’t say what the water costs might be, but labor should be low after the initial planting…watering frequency can be reduced with a capital investment on SoilMoist crystals.) It seems like an excellent opportunity for a local grower to strike a deal with the city, maybe a few signs that say “flowers with the help of X”.

    In this small town that can only tax 47% of the property, a group of citizens formed a “Beautification Committee” a long time ago. Most of the planting labor comes from these citizens, and while i don’t know what we (the grower) charge the committee for plants, i know that it’s not retail. We also have an arrangement with the city for the planters that it puts out. (we don’t even do signs)

    I think that the wrong person is in charge of the planters. But i agree that the planters are a nicety, and also that the library is much more important service. The city should concentrate on services. If it can’t also provide the niceties, then the community should take the niceties upon itself…at the semi-private level.

    And i second Mr. Cargo’s comment.

  3. I couldn’t figure how to phrase it, Jeff…but i guess that worked. Here the city works with the private groups and businesses to provide the niceties. We have a similar situation with the fireworks show for the fourth; this will be the third year that it’s funded by community donations but put on by the city.

    Part of that is that this is a rather special city. The residents are adamant about not developing the shoreline, but they’re thoughtful enough to realize that keeping it as park land makes city budgeting difficult. It could also be that the city is filled with libertarians (some to the left, some to the right…but mostly libertarians).