Editorial: Tough tasks challenge our leaders

Jul. 01, 2013 @ 08:27 PM

Congratulations are extended to the commissioners of Vance County and the council members of Henderson.

All had tough tasks in narrowing down a balanced budget for the coming fiscal year that begins Monday. Their decisions were rendered before the state’s General Assembly was finished, but that’s the same every year.

Impressive on the county level is the work of Jerry Ayscue and David Beck, the county manager and finance director, respectively. Beck arrived about two months before commissioners had requested their first look at the budget. Ayscue, in addition to his regular duties, had been filling in since late last year.

What they did was answer every request from commissioners, in a timely manner as far as we can tell, and deliver on May 1 a budget that only changed the smallest of percentages by final adoption.

Beck’s previous budget work was as an assistant. Ayscue has been at it since the Reagan administration. They meshed well, their work was solid and county citizens were spared a property tax increase for the fifth consecutive year. Not unexpectedly, commissioners were not in full agreement for every line item, but the end reflection to the public was a commission moving forward.

City council members, meanwhile, reached an ending that is fiscally responsible, including the property tax increase. The jump will not be as high as first proposed, and that shows evidence the group could work with the city manager for options.

We’re disappointed in the hindsight quarterbacking. Blame, if any, is only on the council.

The group was staggering to the finish in its fifth work session on June 11, and rather than requesting more options or meeting again, it set June 24 as a date to vote for adoption.

Ray Griffin, the city manager who serves at the board’s direction, promptly answered and delivered all requests during the process. If council had wanted more options, such as one that came after June 24 costing city jobs, it should have requested seeing the budget earlier or not taken two weeks off in June.

Perhaps both options would have helped.

We respect it is a grueling process. Just plan and schedule.

County and city leaders should be proud of this important work. We’re most appreciative.