Editorial: Budgets contain our costs

Jun. 07, 2014 @ 11:40 PM

Meaningful choices are on the line for commissioners in Vance County and council members in Henderson.

Final opportunities for the public’s input have arrived. While there have been occasional visits to the boards during the year with pleas and information, it is in May and June that the numbers are set each year. This is the time when the refrains of “it is not in the budget” are entrenched.

For each decision, we must sincerely ask, “At what cost?”

We as the community should be asking, and respective boards must answer. There’s not a department or organization drawing fiscal support, or wanting to draw fiscal support, from these government bodies that couldn’t use a little more.

And for the most part, there’s not a single one that hasn’t been told “hold tight this year” or “please reduce” when it comes to their respective budgets.

Granted, everyone is tired of the refrain. Since 2008, recession impacts have gripped us tightly. Improvements are gradually making their way even into the snare-drum tightness of our economy, but a river of money flowing there is not.

And property revaluations are on the horizon. That’s not scare tactic chatter — it is real, and it will likely be uncomfortable for property owners and these governing bodies as they deliver decisions in the aftermath.

This past week, the national news cycle roared on many sides with President Obama’s decision to trade five prisoners for one. All of the partisan positions pointed to a singular question as the politicians and talking heads shouted arguments: At what cost?

When the requests come before the commissioners and council, and prior to the final budget being passed, we should keep in mind a story from our front page last Sunday. A Cokesbury volunteer firefighter’s life was saved because a portable defibrillator was on the truck at the scene of a fire to which he responded.

Budget decisions — and at what cost?

Each choice won’t necessarily be life or death, or seen as such, but it could be in degrees of separation. For example, youth participation programs. Or downtown. Or paving a street.

Rest assured, commissioners and council won’t hear if we don’t tell them. And the cost of that mistake would be on us.