As the Richland City Council works its way toward adopting its 2012 budget, one member Tuesday questioned whether the time is right to spend money beautifying the city's streets.
Councilman David Rose said he would rather not spend $100,000 hiring a consultant to write a plan for the city's streetscapes during a time when the economy is fraught with uncertainty.
"In good times when the taxes are flowing, I can see spending money like this," Rose said. "Actually, I can't -- but I can understand it."
City Manager Cindy Johnson said the budget item was more or less a placeholder for future planning, and she assured Rose that just because there's $100,000 on the books doesn't mean that much will be spent.
She added that the budget presented to the council is balanced and that no programs were cut to pay for the streetscape planning line item.
Councilman Bob Thompson said the money would be well spent if a plan helps the city avoid complications -- and disgruntled homeowners -- down the road.
"If you think $100,000 is a lot of money for streetscaping and signing for the city, wait until you do it wrong," Thompson said.
The city's $248.4 million proposed 2012 budget is 1.6 percent less than 2011's $252 million budget.
The $53.8 million general fund budget represents a 2.7 percent reduction from last year, and leaves $5.7 million in total reserves.
The budget does not include an increase in property taxes.
The budget is scheduled for final approval Dec. 6, and the council will have a public town hall meeting to solicit public input on the budget at 7 p.m. Oct. 27 at the Richland Public Library.
Residents can read the budget at city hall or online at ci.richland.wa.us.