10/27/12 — Fiscal savvy: Sometimes it's not about the spending, it's about the logic.

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Fiscal savvy: Sometimes it's not about the spending, it's about the logic.

There is a dangerous trend flitting around this year's election cycle.

It capitalizes on the weary minds of over-burdened taxpayers who are tired of watching their money disappear into goofball projects and government black holes while they try to figure out how to do more with less in their own households.

And the theory suggests that the best plan for running a responsible government is to curtail spending completely. The call is brandished like a sword and attracts the eyes of voters who are not sure they can trust anyone with their money anymore.

It touts no fund balance, no leftovers, no cushion -- zeros.

It sounds good -- and for those of us who are tired of hearing about another bunch of tax money that has disappeared down a rat hole, it is comforting.

But beware. Sometimes you don't really want what you wish for.

Truth is, the best budgets are those that spend responsibly. They include savings, reasoned expenditures and regular evaluation of where the best places are to invest in a municipality's future.

They do not fund pie-in-the-sky projects just because there is money lying around to spend, but they do not ignore responsible progress when the possibility for it exists.

They do not put the budget into such a meager existence that no one in their right mind would ever give the community a good credit rating. And, if you watch the commercials on TV, you know what happens when you let your credit rating slide -- there is no one willing to fund big projects when the need arises.

No financing, by the way, means taxpayers pay the entire bill in the form of tax increases rather than spreading the expense over a number of years.

So you will hear the claim many times over the next week -- and it will seem like a reasonable suggestion and a responsible call to arms.

But keep in mind the principles that you call on when you are making your own financial plan at home -- the mistakes you have made and the lessons you have learned.

They are the same ones those who are preaching the new austerity have made themselves.

And they are the ones that offer the common sense approach that balances intelligent financial planning with responsible use of taxpayer dollars.

Look for the candidates -- and leaders -- who understand the difference.

Published in Editorials on October 27, 2012 11:36 PM