Bosses can often cause plenty of consernation among their underlings. Such is the case, too, with state government as they piddle over how to deal with traditional local government revenue streams.
Just as employees must bite their tongue and bide their time when the boss issues an edict, so too must local governments.
Commissioners, council men and women, town managers and finance directors are waiting to see what the General Assembly will do with taxes that have to large degree helped float the boat for local governments.
And, unlike state government, most municipal budgets (we certainly can’t say all) are monitored closely and spending is scrutinized thoroughly before they are approved.
And, unlike state government, those who make spending and taxing decisions in local communities are likely to face the constituents whose money they spend at the local grocery, at church, or at school PTA meetings. In other words they are accessible and much more at the mercy of those they serve.
If they make foolish decisions, it’s likely they’ll hear about it and quickly.
As of now, the General Assembly’s failure to settle the questions surrounding these local goverment revenues means towns and counties are adopting budgets knowing they may have to go back to those documents and making significant changes. And because towns and counties can not change tax rates (which are set as part of the budget process) in the middle of the year, they are going to be left with only one choice: cut spending.
That’s likely to mean lost jobs, reduced services or delays in important and needed projects.
The General Assembly may well be wrestling with its plans for tax reform, but it’s clear that in their indesiciveness, they caused more pain and anguish than the should have. We are reminded of the doctor’s pledge: First, do no harm.
It’s advice the General Assembly doesn’t seem intent on taking.
And, when the dust settles, the ones who really lose are those who make use of community centers, little league baseball programs, libraries and even local streets. In short: everyone.