Happy New Year

Monday, July 7, 2008

July 1 is the start of the fiscal year for many public entities, including county governments, city governments and school districts.

This makes particular sense for school districts because July 1 falls between school years. Administrators and maintenance workers do not have an entire season off from their duties but most students and teachers relax over the summer, perhaps too much. A few weeks in the summer would be a good time for remedial programs to help students in need of catching up and for reading and math maintenance programs to help all students who will be entering grades 1-3. Studies show that early elementary students dramatically lose skills over the long summer break.

For some workers, summer is the busiest time of the year. July 1 is in the middle of the outdoor construction season, including for county crews doing road projects. It has been commented that it would make more sense for the county road budget to be based on a calendar year. However, county road project budgets are adjusted to take into account the fact that most projects take place in more than one fiscal year.

For the most part, the budgets of local government entities for the fiscal year are sound, with the possible exception of the Cherokee city budget. There is almost no reserve in the city budget, making it impossible to deal with unexpected expenses and difficult to deal with expected expenses.

We sympathize with the city council members who have given top priority in preserving city workers and the services they provide. Painful decisions await the council members when they create the next fiscal year's budget. That process will begin after the start of the year, after January 1, the other New Year.