When Angel Weasner was first hired as City of Crookston Finance Director, she had a bit of a rough go of it, at least when it came to some members of the city council not being satisfied with the depth and breadth of the budget documents she provided to them.

    When Angel Weasner was first hired as City of Crookston Finance Director, she had a bit of a rough go of it, at least when it came to some members of the city council not being satisfied with the depth and breadth of the budget documents she provided to them.

    In the years since, given what she’s now presenting to council members on a regular and timely basis, she has made the improvements for the better requested of her previously.

    Not only has the volume and detail of the budget data gotten better, Weasner has also managed to make it all at least slightly easier to decipher for those who don’t know every line item inside and out like she does. That’s no easy task. When you’re an expert at one thing and no one else in the room is, it can be difficult to explain in understandable terms a subject you’re more well-schooled on than everyone else.

    Which brings us to the months of discussions on the City’s 2018 budget and tax levy, which will eventually lead to the council later this month approving, as required by the state, a final 2018 budget and levy.

    There have been excellent and productive discussions, debates and disagreements. And all the while, it has become apparent that there are deep philosophical differences among some council members when it comes to the role of government, the scope of government spending, and nothing less than the very reason government exists. That makes it a bit tough to pass a budget and levy, especially one that proposes to increase the latter by what is a significant amount, but, it must be noted, far less than some levy hikes neighboring cities have been approving in recent years.

    And yet as this year’s round of discussions are wrapping up, some council members are still saying they’re confused by the 2018 budget and levy being proposed. They’re needing to be reminded of significant cuts that have already been made to next year’s budget. They need to be reminded that 80 percent of the budget is essentially covered by Local Government Aid and various enterprise funds, and that the levy only helps fund the remaining 20 percent. They need to be made aware of the fact that the City can’t legally set aside money in some vague fashion to be spent on something to be determined later.

    Each council member, whether it’s through their past career, current employment or various life experiences that have brought them to this particular point in time, is probably an expert on one thing. Maybe even more than one thing. And there’s a good chance Weasner is not an expert on the same things they are.

    But Weasner, along with City Administrator Shannon Stassen and a bevy of experienced City department heads, have put their heads together for months – yes, with frequent and ongoing input from the council – to craft the current budget and levy, and they know more about how it all comes together than the council does.

    Avoiding disagreements when some are anti-tax and others are not is unavoidable. But the resulting debates would have a better chance of producing positive resolutions if everyone involved knew the more than the basics on what goes into crafting a budget and levy. Minus that understanding, maybe it would be wise to defer to the people who have that level of understanding.