We say: Smart to limit spending

Published 2:37 am Saturday, September 13, 2008

In this week’s story about the county’s tighter budget for next year, Commissioner Lindsey Allison is quoted as saying, “We’re not going to be able to do a lot of the things we’ve done in the past — it’s just about taking care of business.”

Such an approach is exactly what the commission is doing by remembering the first rule of smart budgeting: don’t spend more money than you take in.

Although next year’s county budget is larger than all previous budgets at $59.2 million, the predicted rate of revenue increase declined from roughly 10 percent, as it’s been for a decade, to 3 percent for the budget year.

The county commission is wise to consider the smaller than normal revenue increase by implementing a hiring freeze and funding fewer capital projects. While we hate to see such measures taken, the steps the county commission is taking are prudent. We can’t know for sure how long county revenue will remain virtually flat.

County Sheriff Chris Curry had asked the commission to fund 26 new employees, but considering an operating budget for next year that only includes $1.1 million more than the previous budget year, it’s unlikely the sheriff’s office will be able to fund those new positions. That’s an unfortunate reality of a tight economy.

Keeping citizens safe is job one for any state, local or federal government, but that can only be done within the ability of that government to fund such efforts.

Different people will have different opinions about what the commission’s priorities should have been for the coming budget year; their voices should be heard and considered. But we should each be grateful the county commission is thinking — and spending — conservatively to match the money we expect to have.

We say is the Shelby County Reporter’s weekly staff editorial.