Monday, July 28, 2014

Riley: Dramatic Reductions Needed in Delaware County Budget

By Larry Riley in the Muncie Star-Press:

Proposed budgets for the various offices of Delaware County government, a government that has spent more money than it’s taken in for three consecutive years, have been submitted.

For the 28 offices paid for out of the county’s general fund, which supports most of the routine functions of government, the bottom line is this: requested amounts are 7 percent higher than this year’s.

That’s $1.8 million more in total proposed funding than this year, and this year’s revenues look to be $3 million short of expenses. Given little reason to think additional revenues will come next year, if all requests are granted, we’d be $4.8 million short in 2015.

The Delaware County Council won’t approve all those amounts — members always make some cuts — but nothing short of draconian reductions will align revenues with expenses.

The county, if it doesn’t run out of money this year, will be close, and the gap between revenue and expenses will be bridged only because the year’s beginning balance was $3.5 million.

The year-ending general fund balance — which equals 2015’s starting balance — is projected to be $300,000, less than one-tenth of where we started 2014. With luck, that balance may swell to $500,000.

Yet the general fund needs $536,000 to meet the first payroll of the year.

Borrowing will be needed under any scenario, but without dramatic reductions in the 2015 budget or cuts from 2014 (or both, though time has pretty much run out on making significant reductions this year), revenues won’t suffice to pay back loans.

You simply can’t indefinitely keep spending millions more than you take in. Eventually the money runs out.