Have your say in budget process

Published 6:19 pm Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Beaufort County taxpayers would do well to keep three dates in mind — May 13, May 14 and May 28 — because the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners will work on the proposed 2013-2014 fiscal-year budget for the county.

County Manager Randell K. Woodruff presented his proposed $54 million (overall) budget to the commissioners Monday. Taxpayers will be happy to know Woodruff’s proposed budget keeps the property-tax rate at its current 53 cents per $100 valuation. That means the annual property tax on a house valued at $100,000 will be $530.

There’s so much more in a budget than the property-tax rate. The budget allocates local dollars to the school system. The budget appropriates local dollars for programs provided by county agencies such as the Beaufort County Department of Social Services and the Beaufort County Health Department.

Take the health department for example. It uses local dollars to help pay for mosquito spraying.

Although it’s referred to as the county’s budget, in reality it’s the taxpayers’ budget. Those taxpayers should have a say in how their tax dollars are spent.

They have at least four opportunities to see how a budget is fine-tuned and provide input in that process. Those opportunities occur Monday, Tuesday, May 28 and when the public hearing on the budget is scheduled (yet to be determined).

By allowing its residents participate in the budget-cobbling process, the county taps into one of its vital assets — it’s residents. Who better knows the needs of the county than those who live in it and use the services it provides or the services it needs to provide but does not do so?

The commissioners would welcome input from county taxpayers. That input would help provide them direction when it comes to developing a budget that provides what taxpayers want and doing that with as little expenditure as possible.

Remember this taxpayers: the money the county will spend during the next fiscal year is yours.

Let your voices be heard.