It’s nearing budget time

Feb. 22, 2013 @ 05:18 AM

As we ease into March, public officials from town hall to the courthouse are beginning that yearly ritual.

The ritual of preparing budgets for the upcoming fiscal year.

The budget of a public entity can be seen as a road map to lead the community through the year.

But, a truly useful road map cannot be drawn unless a destination is first identified. Likewise, a truly useful budget cannot be prepared without first setting forth the goals and priorities to be met during the coming year.

For this reason, cities and counties initiate their budget process with a goals session as the Rutherfordton and Forest City town councils did recently.

Daniel Burnham, the architect and city planner who, a century ago, planned Chicago’s magnificent lakefront parks and system of grand boulevards, said make no little plans because they don’t stir the imagination.

So too with goal-setting.

The goals set by a community should be imaginative and uplifting, even bordering on the audacious.

Budgets prepared in absence of goals and priorities prove to be useless road maps for the community because they lead to nowhere.

Such budgets make the status quo the winner and progress the loser.

And it is progress that we are all thirsty for.

We know that times continue to be tight and there is very little wiggle room for officials to mark large projects and grand expenditures.

However, that should not stymie a government from looking ahead to what could be.

We should never stop thinking about progress and never stop setting goals for ourselves or our communities. Having those goals leaves something to strive for. Without them, we have nowhere to go and nowhere is not a direction any community wants to go.

With that, we encourage the county and other municipalities to follow the lead of the Rutherfordton and Forest City town council and take the time to set goals and priorities before plunging into the throes of preparing their budgets for the next fiscal year.

By Matthew Clark, for the Editorial Board

SNbS

The Daily Courier Editorial Board consists of community members Jerry Brewer, Kyle Bingham, Tom Padgett, Dr. Shermaine Surratt and Cliff Strassenburg as well as Editor Matthew Clark