John Howell’s column

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 3, 2011

Can neither add nor write sensible story about budget

I am intimidated by people who can add. For those people, two plus two will always equal four.

Not so for me. When I am adding how much I think I have, two plus two will always equal at least five. When I am adding how much I think I owe, two plus two always equals three. Or less.

So I usually come up short. It is a concept that people who can add — accountants, bankers and the like — simply cannot grasp. They won’t even admit that such a deficiency exists.

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And that’s why people who can add intimidate me.

So when County Administrator Kelley Magee showed up at the Batesville Rotary Club’s Tuesday meeting and presented an informative program on the county’s budget and several members commented to me afterwards that she had given me something to write about, I thought to myself: Oh, no, somebody expects me to make sense out of this.

My initial thought was to report that, “it seems like we’re in pretty good shape for the shape we’re in,” and leave it at that. But that would be an injustice to the administrator who passed out many pages with charts, graphs and large type and really tried to make it so simple that even those arithmetically challenged among us could understand.

I started with the charts and ledger pages she provided, trying to transcribe the information into sentences and paragraphs and got not too far when the old “if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it concept came to mind.

Now, instead of spending 1,000 more words confusing readers, I’ll just refer them to our web site,, where all of the pages of Magee’s presentation will be posted for you to study. If you aren’t interested, you would not have read this far. If you don’t have access to the web site, you’ve probably got a friend who will let you look at it on his or her computer or maybe even print it out for you. And if you don’t have any friends, and I am sad to report that some don’t, call me and I’ll print a copy for you.

Look it over and direct your questions to the county administrator. She’ll be glad to answer and you will be better informed about the county’s annual budget process that begins again this summer.