Editorial: Government must slash budgets, not services

By on September 18, 2009

Read through our paper this week, and you will see that just like the vast majority of businesses and families, governmental bodies are also looking at how to tighten their budgetary belts.

Virtually everyone is in a situation in which they must figure out how to do the same or more with less.

On the homefront, people are simply looking at every possible way to spend less money. The first things to go are things considered unnecessary expenses, and if that is not enough, then families are forced to determine what things are less necessary than others—and then those are the things to go next.

Among businesses, a similar thing has occurred. Companies are cutting out every expense that does not impact their ability to serve their customers. If that is not enough, then a combination of salary and/or staff cuts are next, and they are forced to try and find a way to still serve their customers with less resources to do so.

Among governmental bodies at the federal level, they just run up deficits; and at the state level, they simply fail to pay on their vendors in any form of timely fashion.

However, municipalities do not have the same luxuries, as they cannot run up massive debt, and essential functions—like schools, police and fire—will cease to function if no money is available.

Therefore, without the ability to spend money it does not have, or to pay people it owes with IOUs, municipalities must treat their budgets similar to families and companies. If a family does not have access to enough money, there is simply no option when a bill comes due. If a business has no cash on hand and a vendor chooses to call in a debt or a payroll is due, that company may fail.

Each of our local units of government is facing these challenges, and they all have expressed a desire to meet the challenge without negatively affecting their ability to provide the services they are responsible for providing.

We hope that since these local taxing bodies are facing challenges that are similar to those faced by local families and businesses, that their responses and decisions are also similar. Anything not considered a necessary expenditure should be delayed.

Prior to making changes that harm a governmental body’s ability to serve the taxpayers—such as eliminating positions or cutting back on services, we hope to see the types of cost-cutting measures that occur every day in the private sector.

Salaries should be looked at and cut or renegotiated. For example, the recent pay raises for Kaneland educators accounts for a $1.2 million budget item, and the district’s entire deficit is $761,000. Salaries for the department heads at each municipality should not be safe from a decrease either.

Families have to make do with less income; business owners and employees are facing cutbacks, before services are harmed, it is time to take a look at the pay of those in the public sector.