Tuesday, May 20, 2014

More Questions than Answers

What follows is a letter to the editor of my parents' local newspaper. My father asked me if I would write the letter, because for some reason he thinks that since I write a blog, I know how to express myself well. Apparently he doesn't READ my blog ...

I wrote the letter and sent it to him. He sent it to the paper (The News Leader) with hopes it would make it into the next edition. Unfortunately, we had missed the deadline for that edition. Instead of holding it until the next, my father told them not to print it.

Since it took some time for me to produce this, I thought I'd share it. The title and direction were provided by my wife, since, after reading the resource material, I had "More Questions Than Answers".


This letter is in response to the article, "Village Council approves 2014 budget by county's extended deadline" by Eric Moriotta, and the opinion letter, "Councilman explains veto of budget" by Gary C. Vojtush; both appearing in the May 7, 2014 issue of this newspaper.

According to both, the council voted to approve/disapprove the budget at the April 23 meeting. This is seven days prior to the extended deadline of April 30, which was initially due by March 31. Mr. Vojtush pointed out that the 2014 budget was approved, even though the finance department had failed to provide accurate numbers, and that the full results of the special audit had not been received.

After reading both the article and letter I find that there are more questions than answers.

State law requires the annual appropriations be determined by March 31. What happens if that deadline passes and no budget has been finalized? What are the penalties, if any? Does the city in question resort to the previous year's budget, or does a temporary budget go into place? Was it possible to pass a temporary budget, say for the next quarter, until the audit information has been received, or did a full year's budget have to be passed?

According to Law Director Brad Bryan, as stated in the article, "the auditors had completed everything except official financial statements." Were those official statements required in order to bring the budget to a vote, or were the preliminary documents enough? How much time did the council have to review the preliminary documents? Did the council act with the understanding that they would not have enough information to pass the budget?

Some say that government is too slow of a process in today's "instant" culture. There are times when I have to agree. There are also times when I have to concede with our country's founding fathers, who designed government to be slow and deliberate, lest they rush and cause harm ("Patriot Act" and "ObamaCare" for example). Maybe, just maybe, the council acted in haste. Or, were they doing their duty?

© Emittravel 2014

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