Local budgets set priorities for the coming year
It’s that time of year again — budget season is approaching for the county commissioners and the municipal leaders in Haywood County.
Most elected officials have already received a draft budget and will begin holding budget workshops to discuss their options. These workshops give the public a chance to learn more about revenues, expenses and the challenges the county and each municipality is facing.
We know that local budgets don’t seem very exciting, but these budgets are the ones that can have the greatest impact on your lives. The federal budget has effects on our state budget and the decisions made in Raleigh have effects here in Haywood. Each unfunded mandate from the General Assembly has consequences that our leaders have little control over.
But there are parts of the budget that residents can, and should, weigh in on during these meetings. It is much easier to make a change in funding priorities before the budget is passed than it is to complain about it after the fact. Elected officials try to make the best decisions on the budget, but those decisions should be based on public comment.
Take the time to inform yourself on the budget — most of the drafted budgets can be found on the county or town websites or can be reviewed at the town halls. Attend a budget workshop if you think your town should be spending more money, for instance, on street maintenance, or weigh in on whether town employees should receive a raise this year or question the level of services you are receiving in exchange for your tax dollars.
The county and towns are still working with status quo or decreased revenues, which makes it more difficult to determine what projects will get funding and which ones will be put on hold another year.
Here is a list of upcoming budget hearings:
- Clyde will hold a budget hearing at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 11 at town hall.
- Maggie Valley will hold a budget hearing at 6 p.m. June 9 at town hall.
- Canton will hold a budget hearing at 6:30 p.m. June 12
- County commissioners held a budget hearing May 22 but have not voted to approve the budget yet.
Waynesville will hold budget workshops at 9 a.m. June 6 and at 5:30 p.m. June 17 in the municipal building conference room.
Local government budgets must be adopted before June 30, so now is the time to weigh in on a decision that is basically a blueprint of what will or can’t be done in the following year.