County faces tough budget

County faces tough budget

June 17th, 2011 in Opinion Free Press

Our Hamilton County officials commendably - and realistically - are making some hard budget decisions.

County Mayor Jim Coppinger rightly wants to avoid an objectionable property tax increase in these tough times.

As a result, he is proposing big spending cuts, including the laying off of 37 county workers. County commissioners in general appear not to object to his proposal.

Coppinger has proposed a budget of $624.3 million for 2011-12 - a reduction from the $638 million budget this year.

On those rare occasions when tax income is flowing in freely, budgeting generously for various wants and needs may be pleasant. But holding the line on taxes and cutting spending are certainly the appropriate steps now.

Coppinger properly said he would not dip into the county's financial reserves to fund recurring expenses. So that necessitates the difficult decisions.

Calling for the elimination of 37 jobs in the new budget is plainly anything but enjoyable. But it is much less painful than eliminating 80 to 90 county jobs, as had been considered earlier.

We don't envy our county commissioners at this particular moment. But we do applaud them for facing fiscal realities, giving priority to essential functions and employees, and avoiding a tax increase on our property owners in this time of economic crisis.