Money’s on the minds of local government administrators at this week’s winter meeting of the League of Cities. Ames Mayor Ted Tedesco says delegates are talking about revenue, how they can raise it, and how they’re expected to spend it. They’re expected to provide “essential services” — streets, lights, water and sewer, but also quality-of-life issues like parks that citizens expect. He says some critics try to cut fees and taxes, not realizing those are the source of revenue local government depends on to run services and keep public facilities in good repair. Another problem he says the cities have been wrestling with is collecting sales tax on Internet and catalogue purchases. Tedesco says Homeland Security lays a burden for local government operations. He says “extraordinary” demands have been put upon towns’ police and fire departments that required lots of costly overtime pay. And the mayor says there are a lot of towns missing many fire and police workers on temporary active duty. Personnel from those departments are called up to serve overseas or on military bases, and they can’t just be replaced with people “off the street” as their service requires some very specialized training. The winter Congress of Cities meeting in Nashville continues through Saturday.
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