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What should elected leaders do in this year's tough budget season?

Johnson City Press • May 13, 2018 at 10:44 PM

Now’s the time of the year when the leaders of local governments start set their budgets.

They, with help from department heads, will spend the next several weeks analyzing and adjusting expenses, prioritizing services and setting tax rates to pay for it all.

It’s an important process the keeps school buses rolling, police and firefighters on the streets and water flowing to the tap.

This year, some leaders have predicted difficult decisions to make governmental ends meet.

Washington County Mayor Dan Eldridge, for example, said last week he expects this one will be one of the most daunting budget cycles of his political career.

With little to no growth in the tax base, he said priorities will likely have to be set by county commissioners and some tough calls may have to be made.

In Carter County, expenses requested by department heads are $1.3 million more than expected revenues, which would take a 16-cent property tax increase to fund.

Johnson City’s police and fire chiefs are looking for budget increases to pay for new positions and raises, but the money for them must come from somewhere.

Since elected leaders will likely have such challenging times with municipal budgets this year, let’s help them out. What do you want to see publicly funded?

What services and features should be highly prioritized, and which do you think are less important? Are there any you would be willing to pay more for?

Send your comments to [email protected]. Please include your name, telephone number and address for verification. Letters may be no longer than 300 words and will be edited for grammar, style and length.

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