Celebrating a surplus

Published 7:25 pm Saturday, November 20, 2010

Considering the dire economic situation during the past couple of years, it would have been easy to imagine a situation in which the Suffolk City Council, during its meeting on Wednesday, heard that the city would not have enough money in its general fund to cover its bills this year, necessitating a dip into contingency funds, or cuts in salaries or services, or both.

Instead, council members this week learned that the city anticipates a $1.3-million surplus from the last fiscal year. The windfall is partly a result of better-than-expected tax collections and partly a result of sound fiscal management, both of which are occasions worthy of praise for Suffolk’s administration and its fiscal policies.

While such surpluses are exciting enough in and of themselves, the fact that the city has developed a plan for the money that will have a broad range of benefits to its residents is icing on the cake.


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About a third of the surplus will go toward updating and improving conditions at Suffolk’s animal shelter, where city employees and volunteers strive every day to reunite lost animals with their families and to place unwanted animals in loving, permanent homes. Too many helpless, unloved pets find their way to the shelter, and a depressing percentage of those animals never leave the facility alive. A better environment there will help increase the number of adoptions, thereby reducing the portion of animals that must be euthanized.

Some of the money will be used to transform an old Department of Defense installation near Bennett’s Creek Park into a new recreation center, giving people in that part of the city a resource to fight a range of problems from obesity to teen violence. Bennett’s Creek Park is a great asset to the city; the new recreation center nearby will help the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation expand its offerings to folks in North Suffolk.

Fittingly, another portion of the surplus will be used to expand economic development retention and expansion initiatives. Without a strong commitment to economic development, Suffolk would not have seen this surplus. It is appropriate for the city to continue to sow the seeds of economic growth in preparation for a bountiful harvest in the future.

Suffolk taxpayers have every reason to celebrate the city’s success in weathering the economic storm that has beset the nation. And these three gifts to themselves are an appropriate way to celebrate.