Sampson County’s Board of Commissioners is meeting Monday to yet again discuss the 2014-15 budget, with a proposed 7-cent tax hike looming ominously over their heads.
It is our hope that Monday will be more action than sideshow, more attempts to work together for valuable solutions than jockeying for position, pontificating, and, in general, doing everything but what they should have been doing for the past 6-9 months — finding ways to trim the budget with as little burden to taxpayers as possible.
What has happened up to this point has been embarrassing — the bickering, the threats, the bullying and, perhaps most embarrassing of all, the way members go at each other only to kiss and make up in public view, acting as if that gesture makes up for the earlier behavior, something to be congratulated rather than something that would make one cringe.
The aftermath of last Monday’s public hearing should not be allowed to happen again. Our government leaders are far better individuals than their most recent actions show, and it is time for all of them to behave accordingly. County residents deserve better.
It doesn’t mean we expect them never to disagree. They should because it’s how great things are accomplished. But what we do expect is decorum, respect for one another’s opinions, less self-serving attitudes, less vindictive behavior and less political grand-standing.
And we expect a budge. Not another interim one, but a full-fledged working document that will allow this county to operate, reward hard-working employees and provide the services county residents should expect.
Will that mean a 7-cent tax hike? That ball is in the hands of commissioners.
The 7-cent tax hike is down from the proposed 9 cent one originally proposed by county manager Ed Causey in his budget message to government leaders, but it remains more than some commissioners feel it needs to be. Sad thing is, up until chairman Jefferson Strickland’s offering of cuts last week, not a single board member has suggested any solutions that would trim the budget and lessen the tax burden.
A tax hike should not be a surprise to any of the five men on the board. Causey has been warning that this day would come since he took office, noting that the once-pledged, but never implemented tax hike to build three new high schools, among other expenditures, would be an albatross hanging around the necks of commissioners.
It’s there now, and we know it weighs heavy.
As manager, Causey answers to the board and is charged with presenting a budget and following the wishes of the board, or at least a majority. But it’s not his responsibility alone. Commissioners have a role as well.
It’s time all took responsibility for the roles they play, roll up their shirtsleeves and hammer out the best financial plan they can. Sampson’s residents deserve that.