Elected officialsshould be praisedfor budget work

Local pharmacies should know to stay well stocked with items like Alka-Seltzer, Prilosec OTC, Tums, Excedrin and other antacids and migraine soothers during the month of June.

It is then when local government officials — towns, county and school — are held hostage by outside forces to determine a working budget for the next fiscal year, as well as under the gun of state law to approve that budget by June 31.

Those outside forces that often cause local elected folks to consider pulling their graying hair out and question exactly why they put their name on the ballot can be whittled down to two: the state legislature and the county tax office.

Local government is at the mercy of state lawmakers each year with regards to exactly what mandates and, over recent years at least, what cuts will be made to funding for local programs and services.

Our hometown officials are also, as of late, been kept waiting for property revaluation numbers from the county tax office — numbers which play a key role in determining what the final tax rate will be for the county and towns.

And earlier this week, at nearly the 11th hour before new budgets needed to be OK’d, the county’s Board of Commissioners and town of Bladenboro managed to pass spending plans despite a heavy hit to their tax revenue expectations. And the Board of Education, which took another swipe at finalizing a difficult 2015-16 budget on Thursday — the results of which were not known as of this writing — has been mired in perhaps its most challenging budget process in decades.

Taxpayers, and especially voters, will hold local officials’ feet to the fire because of any tax increase. But it’s hardly the fault of those elected officials. In fact, it’s hardly the fault of state lawmakers or those preforming property tax evaluations. The economy has been beating up on budgets for a decade now, and where once elected boards had “rainy day funds” available to cover many of the deficits along the way, those monies have now dried up.

Just as we have all had to tighten up our own personal belts a notch or two when it comes to spending, so too will the elected boards who serve us locally. And while many think they could manage and run things better than those we have elected to do the job, the fact of the matter is that those naysayers rarely have the courage to put their hat into the ring in order to put their ideas where their mouth is.

We will take this time to pass along our kudos to the elected officials — as well as the town managers, county manager and school superintendent — for all the difficult work they’ve had to put in so that the best possible budget can be designed and approved. We do not envy those tackling that challenging task.

And as the latest budget season comes to a close, we hope residents will support their elected officials and even share ideas that may help with the next budget season. Donations of those antacid and migraine items may also be a nice touch.