ESCANABA - A local leadership program had participants making some very important decisions Thursday when the group took part in a mock council meeting at Escanaba City Hall.
Within a two-hour period, members of Delta Force hammered out an annual budget for their mock city of Delta Force. Departments presented their budget needs, and a five-member council decided on programs to keep and cut.
The real Delta Force consists of a group of individuals chosen to learn about, and experience, different aspects of the community so they can become more involved as citizens and leaders.
Jenny Lancour | Daily Press
Delta Force participant Ryan Holm goes over paperwork prior to presenting a utility department’s budget during a mock city council meeting Thursday.
The group meets monthly for nine months. Thursday's mock meeting was part of Government Day, which began with a history of government in Delta County. Later in the day, the group met with representatives of city, township, county and state governments.
During the mock council meeting, Delta Force participants were each assigned a role in their pretend city, such as mayor, commissioner, city employee or member of the public. While playing these roles, participants interacted to put together a budget for the mock city.
"Delta Force City Manager," played by Craig Lauerman, actually a Delta Force facilitator, presented council with a proposed $1 million budget for 2012. After taking into consideration less-than-anticipated state and local funding, the group had to make some program cuts.
Budget reductions included elimination of library and ice rink funding. Additional cuts were made in funding beach, water park, and other park programs.
Though a proposal to add a police officer was not approved, council did include a $25,000 grant for a new vehicle.
In the end, the budget was balanced and included a $19,000 fund balance.
While considering the whole financial picture, "Delta Force Mayor" Jennifer Pare, Delta Force participant, realized "you can't please everyone" when it comes to putting together a city budget.
"You get a whole new sense of appreciation for what they (council members) have to do in balancing the budget," Pare commented after the mock meeting adjourned.
She described the budget process as very interesting and informative, as well as challenging, especially when it came to making program cuts.
A city's budget is affected by many factors, including funding limitations, negotiated union contracts, and even assumptions that council has to make along the way, Pare said.
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Jenny Lancour, (906) 786-2021, ext. 143, firstname.lastname@example.org