Park Finance Officer Milton Struts believed he had a sweet secret to share this morning when he strode up to the press conference podium to release his Office’s expense projections for 2014, otherwise known as The Park Budget.
Displaying confidence in the PFO’s “tough decisions,” and assuming the budget would be “widely approved,” the smiling Struts assured reporters and observers that “we listened intently to Park Animals’ concerns” and that the PFO took them all into consideration when formulating the budget.
“We have attempted to be sensitive to issues that are important to Park citizens,” he said, before using his signature line to the media as the press conference concluded:
“We can’t bury our heads in the sand any longer.”
But, at the after-conference, many reporters and financial analysts had questions that seemed to surprise Struts.
Why, for instance, had both healthcare and security budgets been reduced, many asked, while groundskeeping and water had received a boost in funding? And, while no one seemed surprised that arts and sports funding as well as funding for special events had been reduced drastically (virtually halved since the 2012 budget was presented), many were genuinely puzzled by the bare bones budget set out for public education.
“I am shocked and disappointed,” said 2012 Archon Boniface Cuckoo.
“We (the 2012 Archons) wanted to make public education our legacy and we had the plan in place to do it, including building new educational venues and standardizing the curriculum. That can’t be done on 5%,” he said.
Predictably, the “mere 3%” allocated to tourism, as Struts called it, drew fierce criticism as an unnecessary and unwarranted expenditure and few seemed to believe Struts’s claim that weather would be better financed in the coming year.
“I think what they did was take a little from here, a little from there, and then put a different label on it. They thought they could placate us by giving weather its own place in the budget, but I don’t believe they’ve truly allocated any extra funding for it. We will have to see as things unfold,” said Kalliope Sun Bear, president of the Weather Makers, Producers and Sellers Alliance of The Park (WMPSAP).
“Unless he has some real answers for us, Mr. Struts might find his sweet secret has turned a little sour,” she said.