For the first time in a long, long time the City of Warren is raising taxes.
Did you expect tax rates to stay the same forever? Did you expect your 2011 automobile to cost the same as your 2001 automobile, or a can of baked beans to cost what it did 15 years ago?
Of course not.
The goods and services that the city government pays for are not immune to inflationary pressures. Likewise, the city's tax base has not expanded to keep up.
Warren is not alone.
Local governments big and small have found themselves between a rock and a hard place over the past couple years. The state's capital city is broke, financially strapped to the point where the state government is taking over, a sort of government receivership.
Unlike the federal government, local and state governments do not have the luxury of budgeting deficits. Local governments have to make the balance sheets balance. It is a simple equation, really. You cannot spend any more than you take in. If revenues stagnate or fall, spending must stagnate or fall.
In terms of local government, that means reducing services and reducing personnel or increasing revenue. When development slows to a stop, when businesses shutter and new ones don't replace them, revenue declines.
These are all fairly simple matters until you get down to making the decisions about which services to curtail, which employees to cut.
If you plan to attend a public hearing on the city's tentative budget on Friday and you don't like tax increases, arm yourself with suggestions about places to cut expenses or ideas about alternative sources of revenue, because those are the only two things that will prevent a tax increase.