Unless you are sheltering in place somewhere off the grid (in which case, I suppose you wouldn’t be reading this), you know there is a lot of debate about the government’s reactions to the Chinese coronavirus situation. As polarizing as politics are, there are lots of points of view and disagreement surrounding this issue. However, I think most everyone agrees that the impact on local businesses that are being told they cannot operate is devastating.
Local businesses are concerned that they cannot generate revenue if they are being mandated to shut their doors. It is as simple as that. They are scrambling to find ways to cut their expenses to account for the decrease or complete lapse in revenue and make tough decisions to try to save their business, employees, capital, and American dream from completely going bust.
Government entities at all levels are also affected by their decisions to shut the economy. Other than at the federal level, where currency can be manipulated and printed to (temporarily) mask the pain, other entities rely on anticipated tax revenue, oil and gas revenue, etc. to build their budgets and operate. Common sense would say that these cities, ISDs, counties, and state agencies would know that revenues will not be as anticipated would also be scrambling to identify and make immediate and real cuts in spending. However, unlike your local business owner, these taxing entities can always spend as if nothing has changed, then attempt to raise taxes and float bonds to cover their excess.
I have residences and pay taxes in two cities: Roanoke, Texas, and Bayfield, Colorado. The Bayfield Town Board anticipates a 25 percent revenue shortfall because of the Chinese coronavirus pandemic. In response, staff identified hundreds of thousands of dollars in budget cuts. This week, the town council passed relief measures for its utility customers and identified additional possible budget cuts in an effort to help residents and town finances during the Chinese coronavirus pandemic. As of today, the city of Roanoke hasn’t had an agenda item related to cost-cutting.
Whether you believe that it’s time for Texans to get back to work before the economy is destroyed beyond repair or you support keeping the economy closed until there is zero threat of anyone contracting the Chinese coronavirus, I hope everyone realizes that government entities cannot spend as if everything is normal. Taxpayers must take the time to let the elected officials in their city, county, school district, etc. know how they feel about their stewardship of our tax dollars.
I encourage everyone to reach out today and ask, “What measures are you taking to reduce cost and trim expenses to offset the loss of revenue?”
This commentary was submitted and published with the author’s permission. If you wish to submit a commentary to Texas Scorecard, please submit your article to firstname.lastname@example.org.