Just when local government officials thought it was safe to guess at budget revenue in a post-coronavirus economy, COVID-19 issued a deadly “think again” message. Though many businesses and families continue trying to get back to normal, it is likely the epidemic’s resurgence will affect tax revenue for local and state entities.
That means information such as that discussed by Jefferson County commissioners last week may be just a starting point in crafting budgets for the upcoming fiscal year.
Auditor E.J. Conn told commissioners the county’s proposed general fund budget for next year, including requests from department heads, is $17.7 million. Revenue for the year is expected to total only $15 million.
That means it is time to “pump the brakes” on spending, as Commissioner Tom Gentile noted.
Or should the fiscal brakes be slammed on?
No one knows. Clearly, however, commissioners and other local government leaders in the valley need to tell department heads to cut budget requests to amounts now expected to be available — and be thinking about how to reduce their requests even more, should COVID-19 result in another economic slowdown.
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