Changes in budget erode public confidence

Written by The Curry Coastal Pilot April 27, 2012 08:50 pm

 

When the Curry County Budget Committee found a couple more sources of funds to keep county government running, it was at least temporary relief. After months of predicting financial collapse of county government by fall 2012, county officials pushed that forecast to June 2013.

The breathing room in that new date offers a little more time for planning a solution. The question is whether these changes – no matter through hard work or surprise – build or erode the credibility that county officials desperately need. Are they doing everything they can to find every last penny? 

Curry County officials have been making their way through an ever-changing financial landscape. Planned federal funding fell short, the air-handling system in the jail failed, the legislature changed the rules on using road funds, the county discovered it could avoid unemployment costs; the turns in fiscal events over the past few months are mind-boggling. But it leaves some wondering what else might be available.

Everyone needs the confidence of a very clear and complete report of the county’s financial situation. We believe the county should ask the Oregon Department of Revenue, or other outside experts in county finances, to come in to “sweep” through the county’s books and balances for any last “crumb” of financial assets or capabilities.

We’re not talking about the overdue county audit; that’s about past finances. The public needs a firm forecast of the future. We need confidence that Curry‚ÄąCounty knows exactly what resources are on hand, what funding might still be available without new taxes, and how long it might last.

Unfortunately, this “good news” that the county can hang on a few months longer could also leave many voters with doubts. Until those doubts are erased, the county cannot count on full public support for other revenue solutions.