Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The County Budget

There are problems with the county's budget. A bad economy has hurt tax revenues for the county and the problem is very real. There are spending problems, too.

When I served as a Judge, I urged my colleagues to join me in recognizing the county budget woes and to make appropriate savings and cuts. I urged my colleageus on the bench to work
constructively with the Commissioners to make cuts to our operations within the courts. I believed that we should work coooperatively to solve a budget crisis that affects all of us.

Today, as the Republican Party Chairman, I have the exact same view. I have urged county Republican elected officials to look carefully at their budgets and make the appropriate cuts to operations. I believe that we should cooperate with the Democratic Commissioners to cut spending. As Republicans, this is our obligation! We should lead.

I would expect the Democratic County Commissioners to do their part and to cut unnecessary, discretionary spending and to do so in a non-political way. The pet programs that Democrats love so much must be subject to the same budget cuts our elected leaders are expected to make. Cutting wasteful government spending is not something Democrats do well. They've tried to raise our taxes with no support from the taxpayers.

The Court of Common Pleas, an area under Republican control, has done well on spending. The Court of Common Pleas is currently under a strict "hiring freeze" for non-essential courthouse personnel. This was a measure that I supported and it continues to have support from court leaders. Regarding the Court of Common Pleas, the most recent county budget report states as follows:

"Expenditures are projected to be $88,500 under budget [emphasis mine] based on the transfer of expenses to restricted funds. This process will be monitored closely to ensure the department remains within the approved funding level. This is a $380,000 decrease in projected expenditures from April." (To view the report in its entirety, click here.)

The County Commissioners and County Administration are over budget. In their most recent report, the Democrat commissioners describe their own spending as follows:

"Expenditures are projected to be $1.1 million over budget [emphasis mine] due the anticipated reclassification of the jail project advances as expenditures. A supplemental appropriation to cover the expense will be brought before the Board on June 25." (Again, click here to see the report in its entirety.)

Although just a summary, it is clear that the Republican controlled courts are "under budget" while the Democrat controlled county administration is "over budget." These are their words.

We do better and should continue to do better. Republican controlled offices should continue to look for ways to alleviate the budget crisis and to cut wasteful discretionary spending.

This is a difficult time for families, businesses, and government. We need to govern responsibly and in a fiscally prudent way. Raising taxes can not be the answer. I urge coooperation and I will continue to do so. It is our duty as the party of fiscal responsibility.