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Cutting budget pays off

This time a year ago the Morgan County Commission was spending more money than it was taking in and faced a difficult decision with respect to appropriating money for its next year’s budget. It could either cut spending and pass a realistic budget or remain on a path of deficit spending and pass a budget based on inflated revenue estimates.

The governing body bit the bullet and imposed a 10 percent across the board budget cut. The outcry was immediate and there was some hand wringing from department heads. Simply put, they were forced to find ways to spend less without jeopardizing the level of services offered to the citizens of Morgan County.

To implement the monetary shortfall, several options were suggested and ultimately implemented. Employees were allowed to voluntarily agree to work a 32-hour week without loss of benefits; employees in one department had their workweek reduced to 37 1/2 hours; and those in another department lost three of their co-workers.

Thanks to the belt-tightening measures and the cooperative efforts of department heads and employees, budgets are showing overages and point to a win-win for everyone in the year ahead.

In a preliminary budget meeting recently, Commission Chairman Ray Long revealed much improved anticipated revenues for fiscal 2012-2013. In fact, he reported that it will no longer be necessary to reduce employee hours and a 3 percent cost of living adjustment was included in the preliminary budget figures. At the same time, there will be no change in employee contributions to their health insurance coverage and a $1 million plus surplus is possible.

The county commission’s success keeping expenditures in line with revenues during hard times begs the question: Why can’t our federal government do the same? We’re now buried under a $15 trillion national deficit, the economy is in recession and we have no budget. A bipartisan effort to get our nation’s economy and fiscal condition back on track would be a welcome relief to everyone.

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