Spring is budget time

April 22nd, 2014 by Ken

While it may seem like Spring to most of us, it’s actually budget time for local governments.

Your city council, county commission, even Intercity Transit and the Port of Olympia are in the process of beginning the development of their annual budgets.   And, most of them, just like you and I, are coming up a little short of money.

The Great Recession may be over but it’s impacts continue to be felt.   I don’t have any more money in my pocket than I did five years ago, and the same is holding true for local government.

Local government depends on us for its revenue.   Our spending gives it sales tax revenue, and since we haven’t been spending much their sales tax revenue is down.

As the values of our property declined the amount we pay in property taxes also declined.  That was a major source of revenue for some local governments.

And, while government has made some cuts in programs and staff the cost of operation continues to increase every year.

The biggest driver right now is health care costs and the negotiated union contracts most local governments operate under.   It continues to grow and grow and future negotiations will require than government unions pay more of their own costs.

But, right now, the taxpayers pick up that cost.

Fortunately for government, it has a way to get more money – – tax increases.

In the next couple of years you’re going to see significant tax revenues on your election ballot.

In Lacey, both the fire district and the city are considering tax hikes and hope the voters respond favorably.

Intercity Transit is going out for a tax increase and even Medic One is considering asking the voters for more money.

Recently our school districts went to the polls and asked the voters for more than $250 million in new taxes and they came away happy with the results.

Top all of those requests off with other tax increases being considered at the state level and you have a major impact on the wallets and pocketbooks of local taxpayers.

When you consider these requests for more of your money, ask yourself this one question – – Is the money really needed or is it something that can wait – – at least until you get more money yourself?

Posted in Government, Informational, Local Politics, The Real News

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