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Which City leaders are really committed to a lean budget?

As the City budget process is set to get underway for 2011-2012, which Mason City leaders are really committed to looking at ways to save the taxpayers’ money? One clue has already shed light on the answer.|As the City Council and Mayor get set to look at the 2011-2012 budget process, it will be interesting to see which leaders are really committed to looking at the budget closely and finding ways to save the taxpayers’ money.

As the Mason City’s budget could be as much as $70 million or more, there could be dozens of expenditures that can be looked and made “leaner” by innovation and practical, modern thinking.

So far there there is at least one clue as to which leaders are interested in keeping the next budget in check or even going a step further and scrutinizing current long-standing spending practices.

That clue would be an on-going City expense involving paying over $30,000 per year on average to the Globe Gazette for the printing of public notices. looked into this spending practice by the City after the Globe Gazette asked the Council to name it the “official publication of record” for Mason City at a City Council meeting held on December 21, 2010.

The reactions to this information from Mayor Eric Bookmeyer and the six City Council members has given a clue as to their leadership on budget issues and perhaps their commitment to looking hard at how the City really spends its money.

Three Council members, Don Nelson, Max Weaver, and Jeff Marsters, have all shown strong interest in looking at this particular cost to the City. Don Nelson told “I’m going to take action on this”, while Max Weaver has committed to placing the issue on a City Council agenda for “discussion and action.”

One Councilman, Jeff Marsters, is ready to go a step further in looking at this issue and possibly saving the taxpayers thousands of dollars. He contacted City Attorney Tom Meyer about this expenditure and said “I would request us get an Attorney Generals Opinion on dropping the local newspaper for official notification. We have the City Web page, MediaCom Government cable channel, can post at City Hall and can post at the Mason City library. Most likely to reach more of the public at an extremely minimal cost with huge savings to the taxpayers.”

These three Council members seem to be demonstrating the kind of leadership Mason City needs: A good hard look at how the City spends all its money, especially looking at items in the budget where technology and creative thinking could reduce costs.

Meanwhile, Mayor Eric Bookmeyer has remained silent on this issue, even as he advocated a policy of “By (sic) low and sell high. Develop, innovate, be flexible” in his 2010 “state of the city” report given last January when he took office.

Perhaps during this budget process we will see who the creative thinkers are, who scrutinizes spending practices and who watches from the sidelines.

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