Returning from vacation, it’s fun to catch-up with all the creative ways that local cities are trying to cope with budget shortfalls.

In Rohnert Park, the City Council has hired a consultant to tell them where to make spending cuts. If nothing else, it’s an arrangement that offers the opportunity to blame someone else if cuts prove unpopular. And they will be unpopular.

In Santa Rosa, the City Council is considering a scheme that would leave local residents with a choice of paying $4 a month for what amounts to paramedic insurance, or paying the paramedics $350 when they show up to help you. (Sorry, sir, we’d like to relieve your pain, but first we need to imprint your credit card.)

In recent days, making fun of these and other schemes has become the favorite pastime of Press Democrat letter writers.

While such gimmicks may entertain us for a time, the city councils will soon enough come face-to-face with more fundamental realities. When it comes to balancing budgets, there is really no place to hide.