It’s not the most enjoyable time to work for local government. But it is one of the most interesting times.
We’re talking about budget season, of course
Towns staffers all across Wake County and beyond are in the final stages of preparing their recommendations for town leaders to consider with regard to spending plans for the next fiscal year, which begins in July.
The public always has a say in what goes into the budget – or what does not. But as a practical matter, that time generally comes once elected leaders have gone over the budgets with a fine-toothed comb and whittled the plans down to a makeup they are comfortable with. At that point, it’s nearly impossible to make significant changes.
That makes now an important time for town residents to make their feelings known to town staff and, most importantly, local elected leaders about what they would like to see included or stricken from a budget.
Think there are too many cracks and problems with the sidewalks? Not enough sidewalks? Think the town has too many police officers when you drive by the convenience store at 11 p.m. and see three of them sitting in their cars talking? Think there aren’t enough ball fields for all the kids who want to play Little League Baseball, softball and t-ball?
Now’s the time for you to let the decision-makers know it. You can believe people who hope to profit from government are speaking their mind. You should speak yours, too.
It has been our experience that most elected leaders don’t mind one bit when they hear a well-reasoned argument for spending money in one way or another. Fortunately, so far at least, local government has been spared the partisan nature of politics. We don’t have Republicans disagreeing with Democrats simply because they are Democrats, and vice versa. Most of them, we find, are interested in good ideas.
We also find that most local elected leaders are prone to avoid tax increases if at all possible. But here’s the thing. If there’s a groundswell of support for one thing or another, and supporters are willing to accept a reasonable tax increase in order to get it, then at least elected officials can take those actions with a sense of trust that they are truly representing what the public wants.
They just need to hear from the public about what it wants. That time is now.