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Holding the line best option for county, families

Former state Rep. Dr. Jim Barnett was fond of saying it waseasier to craft a budget in lean times than during a robusteconomic period, because no state agency leaders were coming toclaim their share of any surplus revenue.

While current lawmakers on the state level may disagree with theirformer colleague’s assessment, Lincoln County supervisors provedthe good doctor’s theory when they set out to craft a budget forthe new fiscal year that starts next month.

At a total $19.2 million, the Fiscal Year 2011 budget is virtuallythe same as the current year’s spending plan. Local support for thecounty school district will increase a little, but planned countyspending actually will be down about $20,000.

More importantly for county property owners, supervisors were ableto lower the tax levy during a period of economic stress for manylocal families.

Admittedly, a six-tenths of a mill drop will not have a greatimpact on residents’ tax bills, but every little bit helps and atleast the county levy is not being raised.

It must be noted, though, that residents who saw the assessedvalues of their property go up could wind up paying more. However,overall general conclusions about individual cases are difficult todraw.

For supervisors, the difficulty will come in managing the budgetthroughout the coming year. They appear to understand the challengethat awaits.

“I just hope we can make ends meet,” said District Three SupervisorNolan Earl Williamson.

County officials were pleased to be able to “hold the line” on thebudget. To continue that stance throughout the year, ‘no’ – a wordmany politicians are loathe to use – could have become more a partof their vocabularies when requests for unexpected spendingsurface.

In these times of a tough economy, many families are watchingpennies and doing everything they can to “make ends meet” for theirhouseholds. It looks like supervisors will be sailing in the samespending-conscious ship.