Getting most for our money

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Carson City supervisors are facing the inevitable as they plan for next year's city budget -- trying to meet all the demands on local government without enough money.

It's the same story almost everyone has faced since the economy headed downhill last fall, hastened along by the Sept. 11 attacks. There's just not enough money to go around.

We were heartened to see the supervisors appear to be ready to take a conservative approach toward a $43 million budget with a $790,000 shortfall, by looking first at ways to cut back and, second, the potential sources for additional revenues.

There's never a good time to raise taxes, but now would be a particularly bad time. With unemployment up and every resident hard hit by astronomical electric and gas bills, we're all watching our pennies closely.

We would expect City Hall to do the same.

In fact, state government has been facing the same kind of budget shortfall for many months and has tightened up its hiring procedures, leaving many positions unfilled.

At many businesses, the same has been true. Revenue forecasts went out the window last fall, and many people were layed off , planned hirings were postponed and wages frozen. Capital projects were delayed, or new programs scuttled.

That's the reality of an economic downswing. Until the economy picks up -- and signs indicate it will -- none of us is able to do all the things we would like.

City officials have made some efficiencies to prepare for a budget shortfall, and they are now looking at the kinds of cuts that would hurt -- employee dependent care, the city's transit program, support for community groups.

We don't envy them the decisions, because these are the tough ones. But as we said, many businesses -- and individuals, as well, in their home budgets -- already trimmed away the items they couldn't afford.

Unfortunately, that's where the supervisors sit today.


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