Last night marked the first of many promised open public forums on the county budget. According to the story in The News, the freeholders diligently went over every penny. Bob Owens has a more cynical point of view.
Freeholder Director Lou Magazzu ran the meeting. I was pleased to see that he permitted the public (about a dozen folks) to ask questions at the end of each department.
What was painfully obvious to me is that budgeting at the county level is not a serious endeavor.
Bob closed his analysis of the entire evening – sorry, but you will have to go to his blog to read it, and it really is worth the time – with these thoughts…
It was evident that the county does not have a thorough budget process. Each department is coming in with inflated budgets that are being “cut” to make it look like sacrifice is occurring. Yet, the budgets are still, for the most part, greater than this year’s budget, and certainly not pared down in this time of financial trouble. That does not reduce the tax levy.
Matt Dunn asked me what I thought of this after the meeting. I related to him that it was like cutting the pencils and paper from a school budget. Sure, it’ll save some cash, but if one is going to prune $4-8 million, salaries have to be addressed. That discussion was off the table this evening.
Hopefully I will be able to make some of the future meetings – I had a commitment at the Elks Sports Frolic. Maxie Petit was the honoree of the year, and deservedly so.