Our view: When budgets matter

As we have pointed out in an earlier story, there is some disagreement among Citrus County Commissioners about the upcoming budget finalization on Sept. 27, 2016.

Budgets are necessary things to give a county a direction in which to head, but the commissioners' disagreement is more about how the county gets to a better place than it is about merely dollars and cents.

It is far too late in the budget process to just rip things up and start over. The budget needs to be in place on Oct. 1 (the beginning of the fiscal year). It's just the law. All dissension should have been thoroughly vetted before the budget reached the finalized state.

But it would also be a mistake to say that the dissension by Commissioners Scott Adams and Dennis Damato during the Sept. 15 tentative budget meeting is not without merit. Commissioner Adams said he thinks the county should go a little slower in its approach to spending money, and Commissioner Damato said the county needs to not neglect infrastructure and to formulate forward-thinking approaches to gradually "ratchet up" spending.

As consumers well know, nothing is as cheap was it was even a few years ago. If you paid a nickle for a soda in the late 1950's, you can add about a dollar more to that today for a soda, which is now also a few ounces smaller. And taxpayers realize that what it used to cost to do something as basic as paving a road today doesn't cost what it did even 20 years ago. If a government's budget doesn't account for increasing prices for what it wants done, it could crumble under its own weight because, as it is said, "Failing to plan is planning to fail."

What is needed is a balanced approach and the political will to raise enough revenues to pay for, in terms of today's dollars, what needs to be done. But, without a vision by the county commission, the taxpayers will surely eventually suffer.  There has been a lot of talk lately about "thinking outside of the box." But unless something materializes, that is just rhetoric. The Citrus County Commission must, as a gestalt entity, prove that taxpayers' confidence is justified in what they do, and not in what they say they will do.

We call upon the county commission to build something itself, rather than merely blasting the works of previous county commissions. Regardless of the level of government, the same old blame-game song is getting pretty old right along now, including in Citrus County.

The commission needs to leave its own legacy, built on its own works. Take to heart the shortcomings pointed out in the board's philosophy brought up by Adams and Damato, and build your own boat. The old one is taking on water.

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