EDITORIAL: Cue the Municipal Band's exit

Staff Writer
Woodford Times

When the city manager’s office released a 5 percent budget reduction plan last week, it had one major sour note — funding for the Municipal Band.

The report outlines the cuts proposed by department heads to achieve a 5 percent cut in their departments.

The plan calls for a 5 percent reduction in funding to the band, which would still leave the city handing the band $90,246. This is incredible when one considers the financial disaster the city is facing.

Interim City Manager Henry Holling called the band  “tremendous entertainment.”

No argument here.

Second District councilwoman Barbara Van Auken called the band a factor in Peoria’s “quality-of-life.”

No argument here on that either.

But, in this financial climate, the band is a luxury the city cannot afford.

Let us consider whether there are better uses for that money by looking at what some other  departments who offer lifesaving services are considering cutting to reduce an expected $10 million city deficit.

The police department proposes eliminating a sergeant’s position, saving $78,000. 

The police chief proposes eliminating an officer with the Joint Terrorism Task Force, saving $50,000.

He also proposes pulling an officer out of MEG, which battles drug-dealing on our streets, saving $66,000.

Are we to believe the Municipal Band is a better use of money than police officers battling crime and the scourge of drugs here?

The fire department proposes leaving two firefighter positions vacant, saving $91,741.

Are we to believe the Municipal Band is a better use of money than two firefighters?

The Municipal Band is a luxury, not a necessity.

The band provides quality-of-life.

So does the civic center.

The taxpayers support the civic center. But, that support does not grant Peoria residents free admission to civic center events.

Those who partake of WWE Raw, an Elton John concert or a monster truck show also pay for tickets.

Let those who wish to frequent the Municipal Band’s concerts show their support not just with attendance, but also with their wallets.

No one in the band’s leadership bothered to defend the money the city gives them at the meeting.

Instead, Holling made their case, saying the band’s leadership is willing to work with the city during these difficult times. How high-brow of the band’s leadership.

It sounds like the band’s leadership has a sense of entitlement.

The band’s leadership should be on bended knees begging the city to give them a crumb of funding. 

Mayor Jim Ardis, at the end of last week’s policy session on reducing costs, said, “From here it only gets uglier. This won’t be clean and tidy ... It may look more like a chain saw in the operating room rather than a scalpel.”

The Municipal Band, much more than police officers or firefighters, needs to be part of the budgetary amputation.