BUDGETING IN THE FRONTIER

This is the start of a series of blogs, over the next few months, on the intricacies of sound budgeting.  I think it is important to remember that sound budgeting in good times or bad is critical to the fiscal security and welfare of Plumas County and our citizenry.

As we all know, budgeting and living within that budget (within your means) is very hard during difficult economic times.  Budgeting for local, state and Federal governments for the last six years has been trying to say the least.

This is even more challenging in Plumas County because we are, by many accounts, still considered, even classified as frontier!  We live in a rural, mountain community and therefore face more variables in both revenue (income) and expense (cost) than our urban cities and counties.  Each year it seems our economy is impacted by an uncontrollable event or situation such as wildfires, smoke, too cold, too hot, too wet, too dry, no snow, too much snow, highway construction  to name a few.  Because it is so difficult to predict or anticipate that which will impact our economy and what that impact will be to revenue and expenses, maintaining adequate reserves and contingency funds is critical – fiscally responsible.

The Board of Supervisors recently completed a midyear budget review with our departments reporting generally below budget expenditures.  This is good news if it is real.  More importantly, are revenues at or above projections?  I have been looking at our revenue streams and the figures I am seeing are troubling.  While property tax assessments are up, our Sales Tax  and Transit Occupancy Tax (TOT) income is either flat or trending downward during a time when the media would have us believe the economy is greatly improved.

We need to be sure we don’t fall into the attitude I have heard recently – “What do you mean I’m broke; I still have checks.”