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Let’s start a discussion on City Budget

It is a good thing when citizens of Lincolnton get involved in the governance of the City. At the last City Council meeting it was standing-room-only for the discussion about the new fee for garbage/recyclable pickup. Our City Manager gave us the administration’s rationale for the fee. I am pleased that we received that information as it gave us a chance to know some of the financial priorities that compete for our limited city resources. The majority of Council members compromised and passed a reduced fee plan which did not satisfy all, but with compromise in such short supply in political circles these days it seemed like a win-win.

Hopefully we can also use this experience as an opportunity to start a discussion of what our budget priorities will be for the City next year and into the future. With the tax cut that just passed in Raleigh there will be less revenue available and more financial pressure on county and city budgets in the years to come.

It would help me to better understand the City’s budget if the City administration would have a class or two on the budget. Or maybe our newspaper could run a series of articles on the City (and County) budget with ongoing questions and answers posted. As an example I would like to know what City spending is discretionary and what is mandatory. Can we sell our half of the airport?  What do we have budgeted to repair our aging water system? Why are we in the electric business when we do not produce electricity, would it cost the City less if we let Duke maintain the system and can we even let Duke do that?

It is hard as a citizen to ask these kinds of questions during a budget hearing and often there is very limited time for citizen discussion at Council meetings. Instead let’s have a discussion about the City budget throughout the year so we can make the best informed decisions possible when it is time to adopt our next budget.

 

John Waters

Lincolnton

 

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