04/22/09 — Budget woes: The battle to do more with less is really just beginning

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Budget woes: The battle to do more with less is really just beginning

It is not really that surprising that the state of North Carolina is freezing everything it can find to make sure there is liquid money available in this year's budget.

After all, politicians have been talking of little else since the word first started to get around that there was going to be a significant shortfall in tax collections and other revenue sources on which the state depends.

And add to that uncertainty locally -- county and city coffers are not exactly flowing freely either -- and the average citizen might get the impression that there is significant reason to worry about the other shoe that might fall.

Even the word today that some state officials are trying to find ways to cut taxes of all sorts -- including individual and corporate -- is not enough to keep taxpayers from stuffing even more money under their mattresses just to hide it from the government.

City officials are already talking about a tax increase as they try to figure out how to balance their bills with their incomes. And county leaders are keeping a close eye on their budget as well, considering the possibility that there might be some need to cut corners in some nontraditional ways.

And that just might be the reality around here for a little while.

But don't despair and get out your checkbook. There is a way that local taxpayers can at least have a say in where their money goes.

As city and county officials begin to ponder what to do about budgets and expenses, perhaps this is the time for residents to think about priorities.

Which services do we consider critical and which do we see as a luxury we might be willing to fund -- at least until the economy stops its roller coaster ride.

This is a year to think, hard, about where every dollar goes -- and what really matters -- and to look with a critical eye at every purchase order or job opening to see if it is vital to the operation.

So, if in the end we do have to pay more, at least we will know that every possible cut has been made and every expense we have is, indeed, necessary.

Published in Editorials on April 22, 2009 10:56 AM