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Balancing act

Soon, local governments will begin cobbling budgets for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1.

These local governments each face a common challenge: balancing expenses with revenues. As a result of the Great Recession, revenues, for the most part, have not been coming in at a rate they once did. As a result, some area counties, cities and towns have borrowed from their fund balances (rainy-day funds) to help cover their expenses. That’s something they don’t want to do each year.

Local governments owe it to their taxpayers, who also have been suffering from a bad economy, to do their best to live within their means. In other words, trying not to spend more money than they take in. Taxpayers, if not demanding that occur, at least want their elected leaders to make a good-faith attempt at keeping expenses in line with revenues.

For those taxpayers who want their counties, cities and towns to cut expenses, they should keep in mind that getting what they want could result in some reduced services or some services being eliminated. That could occur if a local government doesn’t have the revenue to support services it deems unessential.

As for what services and programs should be kept, taxpayers should attend public hearings on proposed budgets to voice their concerns. As for local governments, they should pay heed to those concerns.

At any cost, local governments should avoid balancing budgets on the backs of taxpayers.