In this editorial space this past Sunday, we took the four members of the Whitfield County Board of Commissioners to task for their disorganized budget process.
Commissioners are required by state law to hold two public hearings before approving the next year's budget. On Dec. 7, commissioners held that first public budget hearing (virtually, due to the COVID-19 pandemic) but had not given the public an actual budget -- only a "wish list."
"Our first discussion and presentation left something to be desired," Chairman Lynn Laughter admitted during the second budget hearing this past Monday night.
We recommended commissioners hold another public budget hearing to give residents a chance to ask questions about the budget. We are pleased to report that commissioners did just that.
On Tuesday at 6 p.m., a third public hearing for the budget will be held. The meeting can be streamed through the county's website (www.whitfieldcountyga.com). Commissioners are expected to approve the 2021 budget that evening after the public hearing.
An updated proposed budget is now available at whitfieldcountyga.com. It contains expected revenues of $50.1 million and expenditures of nearly $51 million, a decrease of more than $3.5 million from the "wish list" budget, for a deficit of $873,731.
While we applaud commissioners for holding one more public budget hearing, we ask them -- and all of our elected officials at the national, state and local levels -- to remember to keep a keen focus on who they work for.
Now, the ball is in your court. Take time to study the budget. See which departments are planning budget increases, and which are planning budget decreases. Ask commissioners questions about their spending priorities. Make them defend the budget.
After all, this is your money. And $51 million is a heckuva lot of money.