For years, our county used growth as increased revenue to pay for the spending. With the slowdown in this county's growth (and Michigan overall), that's now catching up with us.
I have to give a democrat of all people some credit here on fiscal matters. Matt Evans has raised some good questions on the county budget and spending. Most of it was about the Sheriff's department, but I think the most important part is this.
Evans also took the commission to task for the 3.1 percent spending increase in the 2007 budget proposal. He said that's a larger increase than the rate of inflation as predicted by the Bush administration's Office of Management and Budget, 2.6 percent.
"On fiscal policy, I don't think that's conservative enough," Evans said.
He said he prefers "zero-based" budgeting in which the county would essentially start from scratch at the beginning of a budget year, determine what services it wants to provide and how much money it has, and then start writing the budget. That's instead of starting from last year's budget and making adjustments.
I have to agree given the current situation in Michigan, especially when I see Jack LaBelle make this comment.
"The county, despite having the lowest allocated millage in the state of Michigan, has maintained a balanced budget while giving due compensation to employees."
I'm going to have to talk to Jack about that. Granted it is hard to read the tone of a comment from a news article, but it sounds like he is not happy about the low millage here. Lower taxes means more productivity, which increases growth (Laffer Curve). The Laffer Curve works well when spending is held in check. We just had the 911 and several ballot measurers this August. Most of them passed, due to it being fire/police related. What's next? Times are tough here, and we do not need new taxes, and we do need ALL of our governments to live within their means.
I think we can start by cutting the full health benefits of the commissioners. If sacrifices need to be made, the buck needs to start at the top - the board.