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Commission has to get it together on budget

Staff Report • Jul 15, 2013 at 9:06 AM

It’s that time of the year when Washington County commissioners do the budget two-step. It’s an ungraceful dance that sees the partners taking one step forward and two steps back. It’s also a dance that county taxpayers are growing tired of seeing.Although the county’s new fiscal year began on July 1, Washington County officials seem no closer to approving a budget today than they were on June 1. At its meeting last month, the County Commission voted 13-12 against a $9.2 million spending plan that would have used about $2.8 million to reimburse the school system for capital projects, as well as helping fund several building improvements.As usual, some commissioners blame the debacle on a county schools budget that is about $3.4 million out of balance. Other commissioners said they aren’t happy with the priorities outlined in the proposed budget.Some have even suggested the entire budget process should go back to square one. While long on criticisms, many commissioners seem to be short on specifics when it comes to voicing exactly what they would do differently.That was painfully evident at the commission’s last Budget Committee meeting. Even though several of the most vocal critics of the budget that had been panned in June attended that meeting, they had to be coaxed into speaking up. In the end, a few minor changes where made to the proposed budget.It was quite a lackluster display of fiscal responsibility. On the other hand, as Press staff writer Jennifer Sprouse reported last week, county school board members have cut $1 million from their budget request.We hope commissioners will take a cue from the Board of Education and act with a bit more professionalism when the budget comes back for a vote later this month.

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