We’ve all been inundated with stories on state or federal government officials struggling with replacing lost revenue since the economy first started taking a hit. And many of us have been personally affected by the economic tide, either through personal financial problems or those of a friend or family member.
And many municipalities are also dealing with the downturn.
Ocean View officials are asking for public help with their efforts to install the town’s next annual budget. The slumping real estate market — which appears to be making a slow recovery — has limited transfer tax fees, which were so important to local towns’ budgets. Now, officials are trying to figure out how to keep the town operating smoothly on a reduced amount of funds.
According to Ocean View Mayor Gordon Wood, town budgets “are like family budgets. If you spend more than you earn, you either raise earnings or spend less — or you go banrupt.”
It’s nice to hear plain-old common sense from elected officals, isn’t it?
Wood sees the big picture in front of him, as do the rest of the town’s council and officials. They know they have to figure out a way to operate the town at a lesser cost, and they have to figure it out soon. It’s getting dire.
“If we are currently spending almost half a million dollars more than we are taking in, available unencumbered cash will be gone in just over three years,” said Wood. “Let me be clear: We will not have cash to pay bills without tapping reserve funds — not a fiscally sound idea if the funds have been established at responsible levels. If we do tap the funds, the problem is only posponed. In essence, we will be broke in just over three years unless we make changes.”
Wood is adamant that he wants public participation in various hearing centered on the budget. “Help us with your thoughts and reviews,” pleaded Wood.
The next town council workshop is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 8, at 4 p.m. The regular town council meets at 7 p.m. that day, and the budget is expected to be the sole focus of the workshop that day. If you have ideas, share them.