By George Boehme
Several dozen people have contacted me to ask about the purpose of tonight’s special meeting of the West University Place City Council. It is on ZOOM and starts at 6 p.m.
The only agenda item is “Discussion on 2021 Budget.” And the description is “Matters related to options for supporting youth sports.”
So rather than reply in separate emails, I am going to try to explain what I think is going on here. I have spoken to most of the current City Council since the election, and they all seem to think this election was basically a referendum on an annual taxpayer contribution of $125,000 to youth sports. And youth sports won.
The general theme they all repeated was that the city is unhealthily divided over this issue, but that the issue is resolved, and they need to send that message to all the residents. I get the impression that they believe they should use this meeting as an opportunity to say that, although their opinions have not changed, there has been an election and a majority of the voters said to give youth sports the money.
And I think that is what they are going to do at the meeting this evening. But I do not know for sure.
My personal view is that this is an outstanding idea. Essentially, the 48 percent of the electorate that voted for Kevin Trautner for mayor support the current City Council. And for the most part, they also did not support the proposition that youth sports should get the yearly $125,000.
So, this group — the incumbents — is in a unique position to speak to those disaffected voters and suggest this is the time to move on from this issue and unify as a city. These voters are not prone to listen to the new mayor and City Council, but they might listen to this group.
If this happens, it will require the current group to cast aside all the hard feelings in the interests of municipal unity. In my view, it will put a stamp of finality on the youth sports funding issue.
If it works, It will be real leadership and make a dent in our municipal division. We all need to be neighbors again.