Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Increased Taxes?

We all know how government works. If you are in charge of a department, you ask for a certain amount of money that is more than you really need. You do this so that the powers that be will grant you the same amount you had last year or more. You know, and they know that you will not receive what you request. If for some reason you happen to be efficient at spending your money, you splurge it all at the end in order to spend all the budgeted money. If you have any money left over, your next year's budget is cut.

If you have taken managerial accounting, you know how a company determines its budget. First, accounting asks marketing how much product they can sell. If Marketing thinks it can sell $1 million in goods and services, then you go to the production managers. You ask them, how much will it cost to make $1 million in goods? You then go and take that figure, add fixed expenses, and you have a budget. Not so with government. It doesn't matter how much production costs are or whether they meet production needs. In fact, it really doesn't matter if the money is really necessary at all. According to government, it ALWAYS costs more to meet the same level of service as last year. Government NEVER asks if we can afford to pay more than last year. Through good economic times or bad, you don't see government budgets decrease. Budget committees take it at face value that what was presented is actually what is needed. Despite the overbudgeting, you have problems like we had last year in Hidalgo County.

Last year, we had a county-wide hiring freeze because the county was running out of money. My wife saw first-hand what happens when money is mismanaged. Early in the year, Head Start was paying out hours galore and serving the children liberally in their lunch hour, as is expected. Towards the end of the "school year", teachers had to count how many cookies they fed the children. In government, middle managers are never cut. You simply cut back on the services provided. In a business, this is stupid. Why cut production when you can save money and retain profit by getting rid of middle managers?

With all the new construction going on this year, you would think that the county might be able to make ends meet through increased property tax revenue. For the love of Pete, we are close to Las Vegas in the amount of growth going on.

I will admit, the price of gasoline for the Sheriff's department could be a problem. We do have a large county and our deputies must travel long distances. On the other hand, gas prices affect us too. Not only do we pay more for gas, we may pay more for our property? Not cool at all. How about some of the county people trimming their budgets a little instead? They need to use their brains a little and figure out how to save some money rather than figure out how to reach into our pockets.

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