So much for money

Economy has delayed impact on county budgets

Despite news of the economy beginning to recover (at least showing signs of recovery), residents of one rural North Carolina are going to see a tough fiscal year.

The same pretty much holds true for other counties of its size in N.C., although I’m far too lazy to provide any facts on this. Just trust me.

But what I can tell you is basically the economic collapse of the U.S. brought on during the Bush administration’s reign trickled down to N.C., and then to Jones County. Officials in this agriculture-based county saw less money from the state and were pretty much hogtied by Raleigh’s decision to pass Medicaid costs onto the county.

All the while, the unemployment rate hung out in the 9 to 11 percent range.

So, when making this budget, it’s kind of easy to see why county commissioners called this one of the toughest to balance – it needed more money than usual, but got less than usual from the tax payers.

Hence, the 2009-2010 Jones County budget, which features cuts of about 8 percent across the board.

This is going to be a true character test on department heads, who need to really hold it together from July 1 to June 30, 2010. If the schools, sheriff’s office, etc., etc. can make do with what they’ve got for one year, maybe next year – assuming the state can get its financial act together – things will be better.

What we’re going to see is signs the economy’s recovering in the news, but so such evidence in real life until next fiscal year.

I do hope department heads look for federal funding since they can’t get much from the county or state. You know that economic stimulus? It’s been passed and we citizens are going to have to pay it back (or our children will) someday. They might as well put it to use.

Because it’d be a misleading shame if they didn’t. Sheriff’s office needs more help but the county won’t give it to him? There’s a federal grant for that. Schools need a new roof on their gym? With the right finagling, there’s a way to get funding from Washington.

But if they do nothing, guess who’s going to get blamed … the county government.

And that’s just not correct.

The government’s a big pain in the ass and if John Wayne ran the world, it wouldn’t be there. But he’s dead and the government’s not … so we may as well take whatever it gives us.

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