When you are legally required to balance a budget, the process of making one becomes fairly simple on the surface.
Total expenditures must equal or be lower than actual revenues.
The devil, as they say, is in the details. Enacting a balanced budget is one of the most difficult things that elected officials do. It is the details, the potential of telling the electorate they will have to pony up more to pay for the increased cost of services or the reduction of services that may be considered expendable by some, essential to others, that make the process often excruciating.
The City of Warren finds itself about $1 million in the hole, a situation pointed out by a city manager who has been on the job only a few months.
So it is that Nancy Freenock has been saddled with the unpleasant task of telling her governing board, Warren City Council, that it has some difficult decisions to make. It is those members who must weigh the public desire for services against the same public's desire not to pay for them. It is the age-old quandary of government of the people, by the people and for the people.
Freenock's initial suggestion is to increase both the real estate tax and the earned income tax, with the apparent goal of not significantly reducing services.
Sure, we can wallow in accusations and recriminations, spend the next several weeks pointing fingers at those in and no longer in city government for allowing this budget dilemma to exist, but that won't solve the problem.
Between now and the end of the year, each city taxpayer should begin thinking about what city service they are willing to see eliminated or curtailed, or how much they are willing to pay to retain the status quo. Make a list, and make your list known to city councilmen; that's where the government of the people really comes into its own.