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Odd balance | Editorial

As the first week of December approaches some elected leaders in local city and county government will publicly discuss their respective 2012 budgets as “balanced” before voting. It’s slightly disingenuous.

At the moment, neither the city nor the county’s 2012 budgets are truly balanced because they rely on “what-ifs.”  However, they do document a collection of departmental requests with dollar amounts that remain flexible before and after their binding votes – all of it eventually dependent on the actual revenues.

Following the December vote to approve their 2012 budget, the city will face immediate uncertainty from labor negotiation with the remaining city employees and continued cuts in state spending.  Of course, that is only if council members agree to increase the four taxes proposed to raise the city’s revenue and cover all the recommended requests.

The so-called city balance rides largely on the increase and use of utilities taxes to cover other expenses. The action does not reflect a city living within its means as proposed by the mayor.

The currently proposed county budget plan for 2012 is “balanced” if the auditor’s office can increase its revenues by $80,000 on a long-shot plan to increase local car dealer registrations. Without it, the county will fall back out of balance by as much as $30,000.

What remains troubling is that both elected bodies have shown a propensity to approve individual department budgets that they do not understand. In the city it was the Street Fund and the parking funds. Confusion still reigns with the county’s parks and recreation budget and expenses related to the fair.

 

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