Budget cuts a wakeup call to local leaders

It will be interesting to see just how difficult it is for the county to adjust to its newly announced financial constraints. Mostly, it will be highly entertaining to watch politicians, in an election year, assure us our cherished public services will still be provided while simultaneously making the case that their budgets weren’t inflated to begin with.

Last week, Kitsap County commissioners announced they would impose a 10 percent budget cut next year and a hiring freeze through the end of this year as a result of higher costs and expected revenue shortfalls. Most notably, county officials point to skyrocketing insurance rates in the wake of last September’s terrorist attacks, and a long list of new programs dreamed up by state lawmakers who, predictably, neglected to mention how they would be paid for at the county level.

Anyone who’s ever managed a business or household budget can appreciate the difficulty of doing so with 10 percent less income. But most of us have confronted a similar scenario over the past year, and we’re confident the county’s bean counters will find a way.

Most county officials, while not happy about the prospect, believe they can cut 10 percent out of their operating budgets without eliminating basic services. And we take them at their word.

The question is, if they can run their offices on 10 percent less money than they’ve been getting without our noticing any reduction in service, why haven’t they been doing so all along?

Before you cast your vote in November, make sure whomever you support has given you a plausible answer.

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