Budget season for 2017 and beyond is upon us among local governments in Thurston County. This means it’s time for the elected council members and commissioners to weigh options and decide how to spend public funds, the ultimate expression of their values. More significant than most of the words said or other things written down is how our local leaders choose to allocate the dollars with which they are entrusted. We need leaders to budget tax dollars where our values are – supporting the kind of community development that leads to more active, healthy communities. That includes creating more places for people to walk or bike and enjoy the outdoors, and redirecting resources away from energy-intensive high impact uses like multi-lane streets that encourage more driving.
This month and into the fall, planning commissions will be chewing on the capital facilities plans in each local jurisdiction to ensure their consistency with goals in their respective comprehensive plans, the expressions of how we want our communities to grow in the future. These, along with capital budgets, spell out large investments in such things as street or water infrastructure and acquisition of park land over the next year to 6-year period, and should align with the environmental values that are in those long-range plans. Both the commissioners and the council members who make the final decision for the cities here need to hear from people who care that we invest in what we say we believe in.
Get involved by attending the planning commission and budget committee meetings in your own jurisdiction. Agendas are typically available through links from the listed meetings:
Later in the year come the operating budget deliberations, but preliminary budgets are being assembled now. Do these support the visions our communities aspire to? Are they implementing Sustainable Thurston and local efforts to become for livable and walkable, less car-dependent? Speak up for our environmental values and ask that elected leaders, putting it more bluntly, “show us the money.”