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2-year budget makes sense

A Times Editorial
Published October 26, 2006


Here’s some good news for residents who complain that the bureaucrats who spend their taxes lack foresight:

The Hernando County Commission is poised to make a budget that plans ahead for two years instead of just one.
Extending the cycle of allocating money is inherently more efficient and farsighted, and it has been effective in other counties, most of them larger than Hernando. Commissioners here should not hesitate to approve the proposal presented Tuesday by County Administrator Gary Kuhl.

Biennial budgeting makes the commissioners and their staff more accountable for expenditures, and to be alert for fluctuating prices for materials, supplies and personnel.

Most important, however, it forces everyone involved to consider the long-term costs of projects and programs. For instance, the expense of a new building or piece of equipment would be immediately paired with the ongoing cost of maintaining that resource the following year. Such information can be eye-opening for commissioners who, too often, do not insist on that kind of detail.

A biennial budget also compels commissioners to pay closer attention to the Property Appraiser’s interpretation of the real estate market and his projections for property values. Anticipating multiyear changes in the millage rate will necessitate  greater scrutiny by the commission, as well as the constitutional officers, who also should be eager to support this proposal.

However, looking ahead two years certainly should not preclude the commission making annual adjustments for changing priorities.

The public should be especially aware of any hint that commissioners are using their commitment to long-term projects as convenient excuses to deny requests for more pressing needs. Long-term planning should not supersede sensible judgment.

And, almost as an added bonus, a two-year budgeting cycle, if begun next year, should greatly discourage the political posturing by commissioners who misuse their authority to cut taxes or dole out pork to decorate their re-election platforms.

Any measure that persuades elected public servants to think in the long term, while also helping to depoliticize decisions about spending tax dollars, is worthwhile and deserves the approval of the entire community.

[Last modified October 26, 2006, 07:09:54]

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