Annual balancing act now playing at budget meetings

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Annual balancing act now playing at budget meetings

Rupert Howell

Managing editor
If you really want to know what’s going on in local government, go to a budget meeting.
Boring to most, budget season is where the rubber meets the road and it is currently underway as towns and counties are in the midst of making difficult decisions.
Freshman supervisor Donald Phelps wants to give county employees a raise—at least some of them. He is also in favor of a facility for stray or unwanted pets and also agreed the road department needs more equipment.
Longtime supervisor James Birge thinks more tractors are needed and personnel for the road department as well as a full-time person to replace road signs.
Board president Cole Flint thinks the road department has enough employees, stating he sees people standing around doing nothing.
District Two Supervisor Vernice Avant also thinks the road department needs more personnel and equipment.
County Administrator Kelly Magee, whose job encompasses county finances, asked the simple question, “Okay, are y’all willing to raise taxes to do this?”
Second term supervisor John Thomas is against raising taxes, stating, “I’m totally against raising taxes. Find (the) money elsewhere.”
The Panolian staff attempts to cover most of these meetings and they are often long and repetitious. But going through the budget process and listening to what is said is often informative about what those we elect are thinking.
It’s not the official action that is interesting and enlightening, it’s the comments prior to official action that tells the story.
This budget year should be especially interesting as the Legislature has “scraped” many of the special funds into the state’s general fund and there are uncertainties if that money is going to continue to flow.
Meanwhile, the most difficult balancing act of the year is currently going on with your local elected officials.
Stay tuned.

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