|Thomas J. Mazur - District 8
DECEMBER 12, 2006
BUDGET PROCESS INVOLVES MANY FACTORS TO CONSIDER
The County budget passed with little or no fanfare. It wasn't what I consider a great budget, but at least we didn't have to raise property taxes. Of course, we kept the sales tax at the same level, but because the projected revenues were factored into the budget, it would have been imprudent to do otherwise.
Working with a billion dollar budget, we legislators have little room to move money around in order to make county government a lean operation – especially when you consider that about 85 percent of our budget is state mandated. What's left is what we fight over. People always say that government has to be leaner. But when it gets too lean, crucial services that we rely on get cut. It is pretty ludicrous that we can't keep our beaches open seven days a week during the summer.
Likewise, it's a shame that we only have 48 vans picking up the elderly and taking them to their doctor appointments; a few of those vans have over 200,000 miles on them. And it's tragic that we had to close a few of our libraries, specifically those in our poorest neighborhoods, where the need for public libraries is greatest.
I could go on and on, but for every tax dollar I want to put towards an initiative, I know I have to move a dollar out of some other place. Do you know why we don't have utopia in our society...because we could never afford it. Me, I'd love to be Santa Claus to everybody's cause, especially at this time of year, but that's not possible.
Drafting a budget means collaborating with my colleagues and coming to a collective agreement of what to cut and what not to cut. Sure, there are legislators that never vote for a budget, either out of principle or politics, and often, months afterward, come forward to carry the torch for their constituents' worthy cause, and say a budgetary injustice has been done. And there we are as a legislature, shifting monies that they never voted to budget, into an area of their deep concern. But that's the reality of government.
It just makes the next year's budget process more interesting, I suppose. There are 15 legislators and even though we each have our separate districts, we legislate for the good of all, as we perceive it to be, from our district perch.
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