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Editorial: Getting down to budgetary nitty-gritty
6/5/2012 1:05:00 PM
The devil is in the details, they say, and that is particularly true in budgets. Whether you are running a business or a government, it is the small, often unobserved cracks - and not the big, obvious blows - that are the most draining to the budget.
It is a good reason for County Supervisor Chip Davis to push his board to look closer at departmental budgets rather than just OK a number, even if that number has not changed. The nitty-gritty is also the focus of Camp Verde Schools’ budget crusade that continues tonight in a special workshop.
Everyone can see big items in a budget - things like new buildings, new programs and new equipment. On the other hand, the small leaks are usually expenditures that have been ongoing for years through several overseers and no longer raise an eyebrow. Sometimes it is difficult to find someone who remembers how the expenditure got started and why it is paid the way it is paid.
Whether its skimming through the line items in the Assessor’s Office or determining the overall effect of 10 or 20 days for a school counselor, this is how potential leaks are stopped. As long as it involves open discussion with department heads, it is not micro-managing so much as it is fulfilling a duty.
Especially when dealing with taxpayer money, every item in a budget should have a thorough explanation. Sessions like these give department heads the opportunity to tell both their superiors and the taxpayers exactly where the money is going. It is an opportunity to question how things are done and maybe even find a better solution.
The strength of the economy should have no bearing on overseeing the nitty-gritty of a budget. Wasted money is wasted money, even when we can afford it. Maintaining a strong practice of understanding the details is the only way to prevent a leaky budget and help prepare for the big blows.
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