County’s budget crisis not caused by neglect
I am writing to express my frustration with the Craig Daily Press. I think it is terrible how this newspaper expresses “opinions” and puts issues in print before getting all the facts! Printing faulty information is unprofessional and it is damaging to the community.
In your Aug. 20, edition, in the Opinion Column, you spoke about the county budget and stated “What happened was much the same as last year — county officials continue to overestimate revenues and then end up scrambling to clean up the financial mess at the end of the year.”
Where did you get your information? If you go down and look at the records, here is what you will find and here is what you neglected to state in your opinion:
1. According to the final audited financial report for the year ended 2002, Moffat County had no budget discrepancy. In fact, they had much more than what is required by law in the general fund.
2. Budgets are nothing more than forecasts, and are often much like trying to hit a moving target. As with most budgets, the county based the 2003 budget and estimates for revenues and expenses on the prior year’s actual ending numbers. (Remember, the prior year was on budget, so they felt these estimates were a good place to start).
3. Unfortunately, the economic downturn has hit Moffat County. The county sales tax revenues, interest income and Federal PILT (payments in lieu of taxes) are all down. Along with decreased revenues, things sometimes get more complicated with unexpected higher expenses. One example of that higher expense is the pest control budget. How would you have predicted that this summer would turn out to be a horrible year for crickets, grasshoppers, and of course, the frightening influx of mosquitoes and the West Nile virus they carry? The county had no choice but to deal with these pests.
As the county gets the reports of these changes in income and expenses, they must then work to adjust their bottom line accordingly. (Just a reminder, businesses and governments all across the nation are struggling financially. We are all having to tighten our belts.)
This is just a very brief look at a complicated process. I think your newspaper needs to recognize that these budget processes are complex. There is a whole group of professionals that specialize in governmental accounting. Accounting rules and regulations for governmental entities are complex and different. One should at least attempt to get a handle on these complexities before making broad statements and accusations.
You are right in one respect. Government officials at all levels have a duty to be efficient with our tax dollars. I believe that most of our public officials run for office because they want to serve the public, not harm the public. Most work hard and try to do what is best for their community when making complicated decisions. I believe that if you don’t like something, you have a duty to get involved and try to make positive changes. Don’t just sit on the side and point your finger. If some of you have some great insight on how to make things better for Moffat County, then maybe you should step up to the plate and put your neck on the line and run for public office!
You were wrong when you said that there were budget problems in the prior year. In fact, there have been no budget discrepancies for several years.
Please, next time take a few minutes to do some research and get your facts right before you put your opinions in print. It is the professional thing to do.
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