June 21. 2011 — The news at both the county and the city level this summer centers on two issues that go hand in hand — economic development and budget issues. When it comes to budget issues, the same mantra is heard year after year, there is not enough revenue to meet the demand of expenses. Therefore, when all unnecessary cuts have been made, the next step is cut personnel.
We have sat in countless City Council meetings and heard interim City Administrator Robert Porfiri, while wearing the hat as finance director, warn of this day. While there is no blame to place on any one person, the fact is they may be looking at losing one fireman and the county is laying off a dozen correctional officers at the jail.
We commend the city and county for looking closely at their budgets and seeing how each department can tighten the numbers and get rid of unwanted waste. Long gone are the days when government departments had to spend up to its budget to guarantee a renewal of the budget the next year.
The economic development situation is an entirely different matter that welcomes a host of ordinances, codes and laws at all levels of government. Grant money may be designated for one project that is not part of the general plan or a project that never takes off the ground. There are also criteria on how certain funds can be used and taking from one pot of money to use for another is not allowed by most codes.
Perhaps it is time for our city and county leaders to explain to the citizens how community development block grants and other economic development grants work, rather than yell foul from the dais. Both entities have employees versed in how the grants work or have schooling or working knowledge on when, where and why a government can help or intervene in developing a new economic structure within the city or county. It is not as easy as forcing out an owner from a blighted building and turning a historic building into a thriving business or updating housing in a community where the local workers, who are younger, would rather move to Nevada.
The situation is complicated; It’s time for both government entities perhaps to hire a public relations person to address the issue of budget and economic development so the foot in mouth syndrome can stop.
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