In the new Reading, the snow won't be plowed, and the fires won't get put out

Mayor Tom McScrooge McMahon put on the hurt Thursday with his proposed 2010 budget, and everybody staggered home nauseous.

More taxes. Less jobs. The Reading Library closes the books on three branches. BCTV's $180,000 subsidy whacked. BARTA gets thrown under the bus.

If your TV catches fire, the firefighters union hints its dangerously low staffing may not get the hoses to your home on time.

If snow clogs the roads, the public works union warns it will take longer to get those plows out.

And the citizens of Reading will descend deeper into poverty as property and earned-income taxes zoom up to pay for reduced services.

The belt is pulled so tight it couldn't fit around Vampira's 17-inch waist.

 So who didn't take a hit?

Several council members insist that would be the fancy Tom McMahon. They say the budget for his office dipped a mere $5,000, to a generous $243,704. Hello.

Cutting 109 jobs is not only bad for city services; it plunges 109 families into the despair of unemployment.

The only sane solution is an across-the-board wage cut. Based on the numbers in today's paper, 10% might not even do it, but it would be a good start to keep city services beefed up.

Of course, that would require concessions from the unions, whose classical mantra always has been "Me, Me Me, Me, ME!!!

Somebody's got to start thinking about the unthinkable.

As a good-faith gesture toward the new fiscal reality, the first 10% could be kicked back into the treasury by Tom McMahon and his staff.

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