Challenging financial times in Camas

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The impacts of a $1.6 million budget hole were revealed during last night’s council workshop, and the picture painted wasn’t pretty.

The cuts that will likely be made by the city are ones that will be felt and seen by citizens in a variety of ways. With cuts adding up to $800,000, levels of service that Camas residents have come to expect in recent years will certainly diminish — even as many city employees, from library pages to firefighters, police officers and parks maintenance workers will be working harder to serve the public.

In the community development and police departments, newly created positions are not being filled. The finance department will take a hit when the position of a longtime employee will not be re-filled when she retires at the end of the year. The fire department will be making due with two fewer front line firefighters.

Maintenance for city streets, parks and open space areas will be cut. Library and municipal pool hours will also be reduced.

Creating additional impacts to local residents will be the fact that organizations including the Camas Farmers Market and the Downtown Camas Association will have to make due without contributions from the city that they have come to rely on. These groups will have to become even more creative than they already are when it comes to fund raising.

The city is doing what it must: Living within its means. And at this point, the financial picture for 2012 is also looking grim.

As people who live and work in a city we are proud of, we can only hope that together we can weather this storm and come out better for it when it’s finally over — with a continued focus on finding that balance between spending wisely and providing the services that citizens have come to see as the reasons they live in this community.