Thursday, November 20, 2008

Tough times

The interesting thing about the upcoming budget discussion in Athens-Clarke County is that while Finance Director John Culpepper will include recommendations that factor in across-the-board five percent cuts, the Athens-Clarke County Commission lists several goals that include more funding for some programs.

Of course, this will be difficult to achieve given the economic crisis and expected budget shortfall. As a result, I think it's growing time for local governments to consider alternative ways of funding such ventures. What are some of those ways? Well, in times of crisis the federal government can deficit spend, but local and state governments aren't afforded that luxury.

Loosening at the state level of how SPLOST could be used is one option (i.e. not just on capital projects). Perhaps purchasing bonds to provide an instant cash infusion is another. Both are relatively outside the box since they'd require new ways of approaching fiscally tough times, and they could be paired with targeted cuts in the operating budget - some of them deep ones - to help provide needed support for initiatives the community has committed itself to pursuing.


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