While it seems like these tough fiscal times aren’t news anymore, how taxing entities deal with them should be. The Metroplex suburb of Carrollton’s city council recently demonstrated fiscal responsibility by attacking revenue shortfalls through spending restraint instead of tax hikes.
I had the opportunity recently to visit with two Carrollton city councilmen, Matthew Marchant and Jeff Andonian. With sales tax revenues expected to decline, they and their colleagues adopted a budget three-percent lower than last year and kept the property tax rate the same.
Significantly, the city council focused spending on essential services. They are actually hiring more police officers this year — a core function of municipal government — to keep up with population growth, but chose to delay the opening of a recreation center to provide $57,000 in savings. The council’s budget also closes a city pool for a year to save operational costs. (Maintenance dollars were left in so the pool can re-open when fiscal times improve.)
Every spending program, at every level of government, has its’ advocates, making it hard to stop spending other people’s money. But the Carrollton council clearly recognized that just as families and small businesses have had to cut non-essential spending, so also must their government.
Rather than guilt taxpayers into higher taxes or threaten to remove police protection, Carrollton city officials simply made the right choices.
Has your city, county or school district been making the right choices? We’d like to know about them!